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Uxmal: Mayan Ruins in Yucatan, Mexico!

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MAYAN RUINS:
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* Uxmal Ruins
Uxmal, Mexico: Mayan Ruins!
[Note: Left Click Photo to Greatly Enlarge and Show Detail]

~ The Uxmal ruins in Yucatan, Mexico ~
 
Are some of the best on the peninsula.  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 Yucatán peninsula, and at its height was home to about 25,000 Maya.

Uxmal, Mexico: Mayan Ruins - Pyramid!
[Note: Left Click Photo to Greatly Enlarge and Show Detail]

~ The Pyramid of the Magician ~
Legend held that when a certain gong was sounded, the town of Uxmal would fall to a boy "not born of woman"One day, a dwarf boy, who had been raised from an egg by a witch, sounded the gong and struck fear into the ruler, who ordered him to be executed.  The ruler promised that the boy’s life would be saved if he could perform three impossible tasks, one of which was to build a giant pyramid in a single night.  The boy achieved all the tasks and became the new ruler.

The Pyramid of the Magician stands 117 feet (38 m) high.  Unusually built on an elliptical base, this pyramid is the result of five superimposed temples.  Parts of the first temple can be seen when ascending the western staircase; the second and third are accessed by the eastern staircase, in an inner chamber at the second level.  The fourth temple is clearly visible from the west side, a giant Chac mask marks the entrance and Chac’s mouth is the door!  Climb to the top of the east stairs to reach the fifth temple and view the whole site.  Legend has it that this is the pyramid the dwarf boy raised in one night.

~ The Nunnery Quadrangle ~
 
This collection of four buildings around a quadrangle was named "Casa de las Monjas" (The Nunnery) by the Spanish, because the 74 small rooms around the courtyard reminded them of nuns’ quarters in a Spanish convent.  Each of the four buildings has a unique ornate façade, and each is built on a different level.  The northern building is the oldest and the grandest; here you can see many typical Puuc embellishments - Chac masks arranged one over another vertically, serpents and lattice work.  The building to the east and closest to the House of the Magician is the best preserved, with a stack of Chac masks over the central doorway and serpents above the doorways to the left and right.  The exact purpose of the group is not known, though, given the size and importance of the site, it is thought likely to have housed visiting dignitaries or administrative offices.

~ The Palace of the Governor ~

Regarded by many experts as the best example of Puuc architecture in existence, the Palace of the Governor stands on an artificial raised platform and is thought to be one of the last constructed building on the site (around 987AD).  The structure has a typical plain lower section and a richly carved upper.  Amongst the depictions are serpents, lattices and masks and also a central seated god-like figure with a long plumed head-dress.

~ House of the Turtles ~

Next to the Palace of the Governor and on the same raised platform stands the House of the Turtles, so called because of a frieze of turtles carved around the cornice.  It was believed that turtles suffered with man at times of drought and would also pray to Chac for rain.

~ The Great Pyramid ~

Originally nine levels high, the Great Pyramid has been partially restored.  It seems that another temple was to be superimposed on the existing structure and some demolition had taken place before the plans were halted, leaving the pyramid in bad condition.  However, you can still see Puuc-style stonework on the façade.

~ Other Structures of Intrest at Uxmal: ~

Follow the signs to more areas of interest outside the central section; the beautiful but sadly ruined House of the Doves, the House of the Old Woman (the adoptive mother of the dwarf in the legend of the Pyramid of the Magician), the Temple of the Phalli and the Cemetery Group.

~ Visit the "Mayan Ruins" of Mexico ~
Index Chichen Itza / Coba / MayapanTikalTulum / Uxmal

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