OK, I just have to give a shout out for Uxmal as it is overseen many times by tourists by the “golden child” of the Maya ruin family, Chichén Itzá. I’m not knocking Uxmal’s cousin that lies to the east, but I am tired of Chichén Itzá getting placed on a pedestal when there are many impressive sites out there in the Yucatan Peninsula and outside of Mexico. Granted, I am easily impressed by the Maya history and even a small pile of Maya stones will impress me. The Yucatan Peninsula is dotted with ruin sites that are worthy of visits. However, our “golden child” is always at the top of the list and sometimes the only ruin on the list for tourists. Yes, Chichen is impressive. Yes, it’s a “wonder of the world”. Yes, it is worthy of a visit. However, Uxmal has stolen my heart and has become my favorite Maya ruin site (and perhaps it will be trumped in the future as I continue to visit other sites in the land of the Mayab). So, why do I love this beautiful city that dates back to 600 A.D.?
1) The architecture is stunning. The detail on the buildings is very intricate and plentiful. While looking at the facades of the building you can enjoy very artfully crafted images. The shapes, sizes and symmetry of the structures are impressive. Looking at each building is like looking at an ornate painting that took time and skill. Unlike other Maya ruin sites with basic stone structures, Uxmal is a canvas filled with art.
2) The city is actually elevated which is unique to many Maya sites. Interesting choice of location since there is no natural water source here. Therefore, Chac Mol, the Maya rain deity played an important role here and his image can be seen throughout the city. Historians believe that the builders of Uxmal crafted very large cisterns to catch and hold rain waters. This impresses me! What could have been here that gave the Maya a sense of urgency to build in an area with no natural water?
3) And build they did! The city means “Thrice built city”, however, historians believe that it may have been constructed five times. Pretty impressive! Something was here or something happened to give them the need to put forth so much effort in keeping this city alive and thriving.
While I love to place Uxmal up on a pedestal and tout its mystical and artful buildings, I am pleased that it remains less traveled. So, tourists- Please go visit the “golden child”, buy your pyramid and jade trinkets there and save Uxmal and other fascinating ruin sites from the annoying vendors, masses of tour groups and some of the uncouth visitors that trample Chichen Itza.
There are many artful photographs online you can enjoy to witness vicariously the beauty of Uxmal. Or take a look at our small gallery of photos! As the cliché goes- a picture is worth a thousand words and as with any impressive landscape, photos do not do Uxmal justice! [Stepping off soap box.]