Uxmal is definitely my favorite Mayan site to visit. I had two opportunities to go there and would definitely do it again.
The Uxmal site is one of the best-preserved structures of all the Mayan sites I’ve seen on the peninsula. Even before restoration, the buildings were in better condition than most other archaeological Mayan sites.
As you enter the site, there are a few souvenirs and take away shops. I really liked that the shops were at the entrance and not inside of the site itself. You can also arrange for a guide at this point before entering the gates.
Once you are past the shops, you walk up an outdoor stairway and the site opens up before you.
Much the same as with Chichén Itzá, the first thing you see as you enter the site, is a pyramid standing on a wide-open grassy plain. There are almost no barricades and you can walk right up to it. What really caught my attention, is that this pyramid has rounded corners, instead of the sharper outlines of other pyramids on the peninsula.
The Adivino goes by many names -The Pyramid of the Magician, The Pyramid of the Foreteller or Soothsayer, and The Pyramid of the Dwarf. There’s actually various versions of the Mayan legend of the dwarf that gave the pyramid its name.
Once you walk around to the other side, the pyramid looks quite a bit different. It is much more detailed with various entrances and the typical wide stone staircase stretching to the doorway of the main Temple at the top.
Just beyond the Pyramid of the Dwarf, after passing through strangely shaped doorways, you enter the Nunnery quadrangle of the Uxmal site.
When you stand inside the quadrangle, you have an all-round view of what the Spanish called “The Nunnery.” You can walk through the quiet square, on top of the buildings, and even enter a few of the 74 rooms. You also have a spectacular view of the Pyramid of the Dwarf from the square.
The Ball Court
Once you finish exploring the Pyramid of the Dwarf and the Nunnery, head towards the ball court. At Uxmal, the ball court is much smaller than at Chichén Itzá. But again, what makes the Uxmal site more appealing, is that there are fewer visitors and you can get much closer to the ruins.
From the ballcourt, with the Pyramid of the Dwarf behind you, walk to your right and you will find pathways leading to Uxmal’s graveyard.
It’s a bit of a strange “fetish”, but I have a thing about visiting graveyards. I can’t quite explain it. There’s just something about the untold stories of those buried in these places that captures my imagination.
The Best View of Uxmal – The Governor’s Palace
Make your way back to the ball court, past the Group of the Columns, and you will see pathways leading through the Governor’s Palace.
The Governor’s palace is built on a huge open, grassy plain. As you walk to the edge of this elevated, grassy platform, you have the most amazing lookout point to take in the magnitude of the Uxmal site.
The Great Pyramid of Uxmal
Just to the right of the Governor’s palace, is the Great Pyramid of Uxmal. That’s right – two pyramids on one Mayan site! At first, I thought that the rounded Pyramid of the Dwarf was amazing, but the Great Pyramid of Uxmal beats it hands-down.
Another unique experience that you can’t find at any other site is that you can still climb the pyramid stairs all the way to the top!
Other Ruins at Uxmal
This map from thehistoryhub.com shows the Uxmal site really well.
The journey I took you on today starts at the bottom right corner. From the entrance to the Pyramid of the Magician, the Nunnery, Ball court, Cemetery, Governor’s Palace, and finally, the Great Pyramid.
There are a few other ruins on the Uxmal site that you can stop by, but these were the main features that caught my attention. You can also walk throught the House of the Witch, South Temple and The East Portico.
Getting there and Where to Stay
The first time I visited Uxmal, we stayed in Merida city and took a taxi to the site. The trip takes about an hour and a half by taxi. If you’re taking on your visit to Uxmal by yourself, you can also travel by bus or collectivo. Alternatively, if you’d like to leave the arrangements up to someone else, you can book a day tour.
The second time I visited Uxmal, we stayed at Hacienda Uxmal which is 500 meters from the Mayan site’s parking lot. You literally only need to cross the street to enter a new world.
Our stay at Hacienda Uxmal completely exceeded our expectations. The property is beautiful, quiet, and well-managed. The rooms are comfortable and sufficient. They also have a swimming pool, restaurant, and bar on the property.
The walls are covered with the history of the hotel, archaeological site, and the general Uxmal area, so if you’re bored, you can walk along the walls and get a greater appreciation of the land you find yourself in.
The property also borders a plantation and you can enjoy a quiet stroll through the misty morning fields.
Want to Know More?
If you’d like to stay in touch with new posts from On Key Travel, please follow me on Facebook @onkeytravel.
Have you ever visited Uxmal? What was your experience? I would love to hear your stories, so feel free to comment.