South East, Mexico
The state of Yucatán is located at the northern end of the Yucatán Peninsula. One of the most impressive and popular states to visit in the country, it used to be the most important area of the peninsula before the developing of Cancún and the Caribbean coast. Yucatán state remains the realm of the Mayan, one of the last great strongholds of Mexico's indigenous population. The Yucatán state includes gorgeous colonial cities, such as Mérida and Valladolid, the outstanding celebrated Maya archaeological sites of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, and diverse beautiful and peaceful small coastal comunities.
Chichén Itzá means "the mouth of the well of Itzás". One of the most famous and best restored of the Mayan ruins, Chichén Itzá was the most important city in the Yucatán from the 10th to 12th centuries. Its first major settlement was Mayan, between 550 and 900 AD, being abandoned for unknown reasons in the 10th century. Resettled about 1000 AD by the Maya-speaking Itzá people from northern Guatemala, the site seemed to have invaded shortly after by the Toltecs who came from the central highlands, north of Mexico City. The fusion between the Mayas and Toltecs incorporated the cult of Quetzalcóatl, the plumed serpent.
Chichén Itzá, with its 6 square km (2 square mi) and several hundred of buildings, shows an unforgettable majesty and grandeur. Some of the oustanding architectural sites built reflecting the fusion between Maya and Toltect architectural syles are El Castillo -which represents the Mayan calendar formed in stone-, the Principal Ball Court, Temple of the Bearded Man & Temple of the Jaguars, the observatory El Caracol, the Sacred Cenote, and the Platform of Venus. Chichén Itzá is open every day from 8am to 5pm. Admission: 4 USD.
Chichén Itzá Tours: Experience the wonder of Chichén Itzá at night with this incredible light and sound show and Chichén Itzá day tour. Enjoy a guided-tour of the archeological ruins, a buffet lunch with drinks, and time to swim or sunbathe at the on-site Mayaland Hotel before witnessing the enthraling show after sunset.
Possibly the most beautiful of Mexico's ruins, Uxmal represents Maya style at its purest, including details such as ornate stone friezes and mosaics, rows of columns, complex cornices, and impressively high arches. Uxmal means "thrice built" in Maya, being an important city during the Late Classic period (600-900 AD) in a region that covered the surronding towns of Xlapak, Sayil, Kabah and Labná. Uxmal reflects the architectural influences of highland Mexico, which included the Puuc style, unique to this region. One of the best examples is the stucco monster-like masks representing Chac, the rain god, who was very important due to the lack of water in the Puuc Hills.
Although most of Uxmal archeological sites remain unrestored, there are three buildings of outstanding presence. The Pyramid of the Magician, with its 125 ft high (38.1 m), constitutes the tallest and most prominent one, having an elliptical design. The Nunnery, or Quadrangle of the Nuns, with its four buildings is considered the jewel of Uxmal. This structure was the Palace of Chaan Chak ("abundance of rain"), the high lord of Uxmal. Finally, the Palace of the Governor, whose 328 ft long (100 m) façade has been considered the finest structure at Uxmal. Uxmal is open every day from 8am to 5pm. Admission: 4 USD.
Mexico Regional Landmarks
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Image supplied by Jeff Thomas