AND THE PUUC CITIES
| Chacmultun | Kabáh | Labná
| Oxkintok | Sayil | Uxmal
| Xlapak |
In the low lying hills of the Eastern Yucatan peninsula, known as the Puuc, the Maya
buildings often exhibit a particular style named after the region. Built during the late
Classic, these structures define the style known as Puuc. The House of the Turtles at
Uxmal is an exceptional example. The design of the building, the setting (overlooking the
main Quadrangle) and the unique turtle-motif ornamentation's have led many to proclaim
this building to be one of the finest in the Maya World. The upper third of the walls are
ornamented with inlaid building stones. The turtles are near the top and are depicted as
if walking horizontally on the wall. The other Puuc sites are Kabáh, Sayil, Labná,
Edzná (Campeche), Oxkintok, Xlapak and Chacmultun.
Chacmultún is "mounds made of red
stone" in Mayan. The name applies to the group of buildings in the northwest
part of the ruins, but has been extended to include the whole site.
Chacmultún, dates from the Classic period. It is noted for the way in which
the local terrain was used to achieve special effects. That is, three of its
four main building clusters were erected on hill and seem to focus on the
valley floor. The three groups which constitute the major ruins at the site
are known as the Chacmultun Group, the Xetpol Group, and the Cabalpak Group.
These buildings, which were designed in the Puuc architectural style, are
decorated to different extents, ranging from very plain up to highly
ornamented. The Palace, the site's largest edifice, is one of the most
decorated, having a frieze ornamented with small, reed like columns and
carved depiction's of stylized thatched huts, as well as other motifs.
Interesting, too, is the Building of Paintings. One of its rooms contains
vestiges of mural paintings showing a procession of dignitaries.
Kabáh this is the second largest site
in the Puuc region. At its peak around 800 A.D. Kabáh played a major part in
the development of the Puuc region. It was connected to Uxmal by a Sacbé of
18 kilometers. This "white road" starts at the beautiful Arch of Kabáh.
The best-known structure here is the Palace of the Masks or Codz Pop (Rolled Carpet).
This Palace was used for religious rituals and other ceremonies and is built on a 5 meters
high large platform. Behind an altar that may well have been used for human sacrifice
there are 250 masks of God Chaac, each of them contain dazzling decorations of 30 stones
each. Kabáh also contains carved panels and lintels which demonstrate a very high level
of craftsmanship. The East facade presents beautiful mosaics and various statues some more
than 2 meters high. The Palace has ten chambers, forty-six meters long, communicated by
only one door. Other buildings at Kabáh are The House of the Witch and The Temple of the
Many water cisterns "chultunes" exist at the site, they were used to collect
and store rain water as there was no nearby water source. This is considered the main
reason of the many God Chaac representations found in the Puuc region, the Maya worshipped
Chaac as a "Rain God".
Labná means "old house or abandoned
house" in Mayan. Labná is a wonderful example of the Puuc region
architecture although considered one of the lesser sites. Labná has a well
defined urban line with Sacbés that connect each other. The city was built
in the classic period. Its peak period was between the 600 and 900 A.D. It
is thought that Labná, like Sayil, was destroyed by the onslaught of the
warlike Chichén Itzá.
Labná was first rediscovered in the late 1800's and some reconstruction was performed
at that time. But, since then not much has been done. The site is located about 10
kilometers from Sayil suggesting a close relationship between the two cities. The two
cities also share structures that are very similar in style.
The largest structure in Labná is a pyramid, which is topped by a collapsed temple
that was most probably added as reconstruction after the pyramid was built. The most
impressive structure at Labná is 'The Great Gate'. It is a fine example of Puuc-style
architecture and is the entrance to the main palace group. Architects perhaps sacrificed
the functionality of a "true arch" (with a keystone) for the symbolism of the
Maya vault. The Maya vault or corbel has 9 layers which probably corresponds to the 9
Lords of the Underworld in Maya cosmos. The structure, a typical false Maya arch, is
decorated with Chaac masks arranged near the upper corners. At the half-way level and on
either side of the arch are niches resembling Maya huts with thatched roofs. Inside the
niches are stucco remains of plumes painted like feathers, characteristic of the headdress
used by distinguished personages.
The Palace group is situated on a terrace built on top of a natural elevation and can
be approached by stairways. The 67 room construction has two levels is another
architectural jewel of the region. The principal facade of these vaulted chambers faces
the south. The first level contains 40 rooms, all of which on the east side are partially
destroyed. The building also has a simply decorated west annex, whose entrances face the
east. There are three groups of buildings on the second level of the Palace. Another
interesting construction in Labná is El Mirador.
Oxkintok was a major power in the Puuc region during the
Classic period. The site has a number of monuments carved with hieroglyphic inscriptions.
Some of the most ancient Long Count dates yet found for Yucatán are shown on the site's
stelae, spanning the centuries between 474 and 859 A.D. The core area of the town consists
of three building complexes which are connected by sacbe's.
The Tzat Tun Tzat is the most famous structure in Oxkintok. It has many inner rooms
which interconnect through small doors and narrow stairways. One of the unique aspects of
the Oxkintok site is the labyrinths reconstructed recently by archaeologists from Spain.
There is rumored to be a tunnel connecting the main pyramid to the labyrinth. Another
interesting aspect of the site are warrior statues guarding one of the palaces.
Sayil means "place of the
leaf-cutter ants" in Mayan. The site if from the late Classic period and at
that time probably covered an area of three square miles. The city is
unusual for its location amid several steep hills, however, from the hills
it is possible to see the sacbe's that link various building clusters making
it possible to imagine the old city as it was laid out. Sayil contains
altars, stelae and the ruined foundations of thousands of smaller
structures. Sayil also has a ball-court and several small palaces.
Sayil is thought to have reached its peak between 700 to 1000 A.D. Because of the
closeness to Uxmal it is thought that the two were probably aligned to some degree.
Sayil's downfall appears to have been rapid and the city may have been destroyed by the
powerful and warlike Chichén Itzá.
Sayil is noteworthy because of the The Great Palace with its three stepped positions.
It is one of the most beautiful of all Maya structures. This palace is almost as imposing
and lovely as the Governor's palace and the Nunnery in Uxmal. Its the most important
building in Sayil and its lengthy form of three levels contains 98 rooms. The main facade
faces south near where one sacbé begins. The second floor shows the most detail of the
three levels contains two corridors. Only one, almost in ruins is found within each of the
other levels. A large stairway leads from the ground to each of the three floors. The roof
of the first and second floors also serve as terraces, since each level is recessed. The
walls of the second story are decorated with columns and with Chaac masks. The walls are
also show sculptures of the Gods. On the third tier is found the date 730 A.D.
Another important structure in Sayil is the Lookout, dating between 500 and 900 A.D.,
is a small square temple with five rooms. The high roof comb, a derivative of the Chenes
architectural style, was originally used in the Peten of Guatemala and later in Tikal.
Used here in early Puuc, it would be seen years later in other cities of this area.
While Sayil is one of the smaller sites it is definitely worth a visit if not for its
unique location then for the beauty of its preservation and fine detail in its art.
Uxmal means "thrice built" in Mayan.
Uxmal, is set in the Puuc hills, which give their name to this architectural
style. Uxmal like Chichén Itzá shows some influence of the Toltecs although
to a much lesser degree. The ruins are magnificent and dignified, commanding
good views of the low-lying regions around the site. While the ruins are
somewhat smaller than Chichén Itzá they have a quality of detail which is
quite remarkable. The extensive restoration work performed at Uxmal allows
you to see the scope and grandeur of this powerful city. Uxmal is thought to
have been the "Capital" of the Puuc Cities of Labná, Sayil, Kabáh, Edzná and
Chacmultun and may have been politically aligned with Yaxuná and Cobá before
the fall of Yaxuná. Uxmal is from the Classic period between 600 and 1000
The constructions of Uxmal are highly decorated with exquisite
geometrical mosaics of cut stone that form very ornate patterns. Some very finely carved
stelae have also been discovered. The Main Temple is called the Pyramid Of The Magician;
it's quite dramatic, especially because of it's elliptical base, but otherwise conforms to
traditional temple- pyramid form. According to Maya legend, the temple was created in the
span of a single night by a child prodigy who became ruler of the land. In reality it may
have taken as long as 300 years to build what we see today, for it actually is five
structures superimposed one on top of the other.
The "Nunnery" or " Quadrangle of the Nuns" is
actually a palace complex, which stands adjacent to the Pyramid of the Magician. On the
West facade of the "Nunnery" part of an elaborate frieze shows the image of a
human face emerging from the jaws of the serpent. This is a recurrent theme in Maya art.
In this case, however, the sculpture of the feathered serpent is a later (Toltec) addition
to what was a Maya mosaic. Among the wonderful buildings and sites at Uxmal you will also
find The Governor's Palace, The Temple of the Chenes, The Platform of Stelae and The House
of La Vieja
Life among the nobles or elite has not been accurately identified at
Uxmal. Unlike other sites whose history of rulers is well documented, Uxmal doesn't
provide testimony to its rulers. The rain god Lord Chac, is the only one specifically
identified. It may have been that Uxmal was a city of Priests and totally dedicated to the
spiritual side of life with very little political bent. This may explain why Uxmal appears
to have been less war-like than other Maya city-states. Art and monuments celebrating
victory in battle are not common at Uxmal.
Xlapak means "Old Wall" in
Mayan. Interestingly, many of the ruins are called Xlapak by today's local
inhabitants. It seems that the names of these ancient cities have not been
handed down over the centuries and the locals refer to sites as "old walls"
or "stone house" or "pile of rocks". The exact name of Xlapak has not been
It is one of the lesser sites found in the Puuc region. It was occupied in the late
Classic period from 600 to 1000 A.D. and was probably subservient to the larger Uxmal. The
central area of the site contains two groups of interesting buildings. One of them is
Xlapac's most famed building and is called the Palace. "The Palace" is
considered one of the jewels of the Puuc style. The beauty of the Palace is defined by the
very intricate workmanship found throughout the Puuc region, and the palace is an
excellent example. There are some spectacular masks of Chaac, the rain god and a series of
detailed work including a false arch. This construction is only one story high, but it has
nine rooms. In the other group there is one building which resembles the Palace. It
displays a frieze garnished by means of small columns and a row of serrated stones.
Archaeological Sites of Mexico
HOTELS IN UXMAL AND YUCATAN
Investment opportunities and Real Estate properties for sale or
rent in the MAYAN WORLD and the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Residential
Real Estate in the city or on the
Caribbean Sea shore. Villas condominiums, apartments,
beachfront houses, lots and more.
hotel-booking engine is powered by e-TRAVELSOLUTION
Viajes Beda SA de CV
powerful hotel engine provides the widest selection of
hotel accommodations throughout Mayan World. This
technology connects directly to the central
reservations systems of Mayan World hotels, resulting in
better rate and room descriptions, and in many cases,
a greater variety of rates. This arrangement
translates into considerable savings.
Concept and design by
Raul Augusto Mendoza Alcocer, Internet and Computer
Worldtravel-Reservations.com, Travel-Rivieramaya.com, RivieraMaya-Reservations.com and PlayaReservations.com,
All rights reserved.