Mayan Sites of The Yucatan Peninsula – Uxmal

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology

What I loved about Uxmal is that it is much quieter than Chichén Itzá and Tulum. You can walk through and on top of most structures and actually touch and experience them up close.

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.

The Adivino

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology Main pyramid Pyramid of the Dwarf

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology Main pyramid Pyramid of the Dwarf

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.

The Nunnery

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology Ball court @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology Ball court

The Graveyard

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology 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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology governor's palace throne of the jaguar
The Throne of the Jaguar – 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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology governor's palace Lookout point View

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 shows the Uxmal site really well.

Map by

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula archaeology East Portico
The East Portico

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula Hacienda Uxmal Accommodation

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. @onkeytravel Mayan sites Uxmal Yucatan peninsula Hacienda Uxmal Accommodation History reception

The property also borders a plantation and you can enjoy a quiet stroll through the misty morning fields.

Want to Know More?

I have also visited Chichén Itzá and Tulum, so stay tuned for more on Mayan sites of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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.

16 thoughts on “Mayan Sites of The Yucatan Peninsula – Uxmal”

  1. Thank you for following Storyteller. I’ll follow you. Even though you claim not to be a good storyteller, your writing is interesting. — Ray

  2. Good choice! I found Uxmal really more amazing than Chichen Itza, Teotihuacan or Templo Mayor in Mexico D.F. My visit in 1999 was truly amazing, only 2 other tourists there except me and our guide. 🙂

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