Are you ready to explore the Mayan civilization? Its history and ruins are waiting for you. The best way to visit the archaeological sites of the Yucatan is to stay in Merida and travel from there to different locations. So, book now at any of our hotels in Merida: Hampton Inn by Hilton Merida or the Hilton Garden Inn Merida and begin your tour.
A mandatory stop is Dzibilchaltún, especially as it’s only 30 minutes by car from Merida. Here you will be able to visit the urban center which dates back to 500 B.C. It has white paths, known as sacbes, which are very special and particular to this region, and they start from the center and unfold like a spider web. You can see the 12 sacbes that are unique to this ancient Mayan city. We recommend you ask your tour guide about the sacbe that leads to the Xlakáh cenote, which means “old town” and is one of the deepest in the region. You can also bear witness to the Mayans’ vast knowledge by visiting the Temple of the Seven Dolls, where you can appreciate the equinox.
Take advantage and visit Acanceh, also located 30 minutes from Merida, where you can see first-hand the importance of conservation and restoration of the archeological zones, as it boasts two Mayan buildings which have been completely restored. In addition, this municipality is home to nine cenotes and two grottos, so after visiting this window into the Mayan past, we recommend you take a refreshing dip in one of them.
El Mirador de Muna
As a way to explore Mayan civilization further, we recommend you start by learning more about elves or alux spirits, as they are known within the culture. According to legend, an offering is made to these magical beings for a large and healthy crop and for home protection. It is believed these mystical beings live in the cenotes and caves. When visiting the Mirador de Muna, you will not only have a great panoramic view, but you can also visit a botanical garden and the site of “enchanted stones,” where you can see the huts of the aluxes, the offerings, and altars that are made for them. You can also learn about the sacred Mayan bee, known as the Melipona bee, and the medicinal plants of the Maya.
The name of this route says it all. Puuc means mound or hill and refers to the architectural style of the many Mayan temples that you can appreciate during your vacation. There is much to see, that’s why we suggest the Mayan ruins Kabah, Sayil and Labná. These were strategic and important settlements of the pre-Hispanic Mayan culture. You will be impressed by how this civilization worked the stone and how its worldview is incorporated into each of its constructions. This route concludes in Uxmal, which deserves its own mention.
The palaces, courtyards, sculptures and, especially, the polished stones organized in geometric mosaics showcase all of the impressive architectural skills that are unique to Uxmal and will fully immerse you into Mayan culture. Also known as “The City Built Three Times,” Uxmal is only an hour away from Merida by car. Here you will come upon more than 15 groups of buildings, including the Pyramid of the Fortune Teller, The Temple of the False and the Dovecote, as well as a classic Ball Game field characteristic of Mayan settlements. Uxmal is like something taken out of a movie. During your tour, you can’t help but imagining the legendary archaeologist discovering treasures in this place.
This walled city has a white or sacbe road that links it to Izamal. According to archaeologists, its great wall is indicative of latent conflicts with its neighbors. In this archaeological zone, which for some its name derives from being a “place of vines” but for others it is a surname, you will be able to appreciate the large carved stone constructions.
This yellow town will hypnotize you. Its name means “dew that falls from the sky” and it is known as the “City of the Three Cultures,” since contemporary Mayan, Spanish and Latin American cultures converge here. You can explore this beautiful place on foot, by bicycle or in carriages, much like the ones you can find in Central Park. The former convent of San Antonio de Padua, the 5 de Mayo Park and the Pyramids of Kinich Kakmó and Itzamatul are waiting for you. As a curious fact, this place was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1993.
An hour and a half from Merida you can find the wonder of the Chichen Itza world, which will you enthrall and amaze you, and where you will be blown away by the sheer magnitude and extent of the Mayans’ scientific knowledge. Despite being an ancient civilization, this archeological zone shows Mayans were much more advanced than current generations in terms of architecture, engineering and astronomy.
The “Black Jaguar” or Ek Balam is almost two hours from Merida and it is hidden between dense vegetation and huge trees. In this site, you can admire Mayan architecture with more than 45 structures surrounded by two walls. A sacbe leads directly where they use to play their ball games. Additionally, you can delight in the monuments of the hieroglyphic snakes, which are quite intimidating while taking in its magnificent acropolis.
Mayapán, Oxkintok and X’Cambó are other places rich in Mayan culture, which you can visit in Yucatan. We recommend you stop by this amazing city where history is brought to life, and where you can embark on a journey through the past of the incredible and imposing Mayan civilization.