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Uxmal Yucatan Peninsula

April 15, 2012 by staff 

Uxmal Yucatan Peninsula, Not too long ago Loco Gringo visited the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal, located south of Merida in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. To us, Uxmal had a magic and spirit greater than Chichen Itza, (perhaps because it’s farther away), however Uxmal does not get nearly the volume of tourists that Chichen Itza recieves. The terrain there is hilly and more interesting, where the terrain at Chichen Itza is flat. We stayed at Hacienda Uxmal, which is quite nice with a good restaurant and an excellent location very close to the ruins. Uxmal, like Chichen, has a light and sound show nightly. The show was interesting but we found just being at the ruins at night to be the bigger thrill.

The name Uxmal means ‘thrice-built’ in Mayan, referring to the construction of its highest structure, the Pyramid of the Magician. The Maya would often build a new temple over an existing one, and in this case five stages of construction have actually been found. Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the Yucat?n peninsula, and at its height was home to about 25,000 Maya. Like the other Puuc sites, it flourished in the Late Classic period (around 600-900 AD). Indications are that its rulers also presided over the nearby settlements in Kabah, Labn? and Sayil, and there are several sacbe’s (white roads of the Maya) connecting the sites. The area is known as the Ruta Puuc, or Puuc route, from the nearby hills. With a population of about 25,000 Uxmal was one of the largest cities in the Yucat?n.

Puuc architecture has several predominant features, most notably constructions with a plain lower section and a richly decorated upper section. Carvings most commonly found include serpents, lattice work and masks of the god Chac. Chac was the god of rain, greatly revered by the Maya at Uxmal because of the lack of natural water supplies in the city. Although the Yucatan has few surface rivers, most Maya cities, including Chichén Itz?, used cenotes to access underground water, however there were no cenotes at Uxmal. Instead, it was necessary to collect water in chultunes or cisterns, built in the ground.

In Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan John Stevens recounts stories of the human sacrifices performed at the highest temple of the House of the Magician. With the victim still alive, the priest would rip out the heart with a flint knife and throw the body (allegedly still moving) down the steep steps.

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