20-minute drive north of the colonial city of Valladolid in the neighboring state of Yucatan, lies Ek Balam, an ancient Mayan site that is currently being excavated by archaeologists. To date, 60 buildings have been restored and a wealth of artifacts, including 50 hieroglyphic inscriptions and a royal tomb with offerings of jade, pottery and copal incense have been unearthed.
Ek Balam, “black jaguar or star jaguar” in Maya was inhabited from 600 B.C. and reached its peak between A.D. 600-900. It is an enigma for archaeologists, its ceremonial heart is walled, probably for defensive purposes, and its buildings show a variety of architectural styles and artistic elements including hieroglyphic inscriptions and friezes. The city’s crowning glory is the façade on the upper level of the Acropolis, the principal building, which features stucco serpents, masks of the earth monster and the statues of richly attired nobles, including a seated figure thought to be one of the rulers. The huge building was built in several phases and is a warren of rooms and terraces.
Local people often refer to the statues at the top of the Acropolis as “los angeles,” the angels, because they appear to have wings. The “wings” are actually feather headdresses. Archaeologists have deciphered hieroglyphic inscriptions at the site and others in the area to discover that Ek Balam was ruled by a powerful dynasty and have identified the city’s founding father, Ukit Kan Le’k Tok who came to power in 770 A.D. it is though that the central statue may depict this mythical personage.
To reach the site from Cancún take Highway 180 to Valladolid and then Highway 295. The road to Ek Balam is clearly marked.
A painting of Ek Balam graces the living room of your residence and when you are ready to visit this beautiful site,
your Concierge can help organize trips or a car rental so that you can explore on your own.
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