Oxmal, Three Times Built
Another day and another Maya city: welcome to Uxmal. The 4th pre-Columbian archaeological site we visit in this trip so far, and sadly meaning only one more left to go. This is quite different to Chichen Itza even the distance separating both is not that big and both are of Maya civilization. The main difference is the architectural style. Although structures are always repeating on every city; final decoration, sculptures and finishings are not the same. While Chichen Itza has a wide mix of styles, Uxmal is entirely Puuc.
How can you easily spot what is Puuc architecture? Notice the intricate mosaics made of stone on the upper façades of the constructions. This is something unique to this style and the finest examples are found in Uxmal, the largest city on such style.
Being around half of the size of Chichen Itza, and so near to many other Maya cities, it is easy to actually visit more than one in the same day. In fact and as I will explain below in the section how to visit the site, there are Sunday tours where they take you to 5 cities. This is called La Ruta Puuc (the Puuc Route).
The city can be summarized in three great constructions. The first you will encounter right in front of you is the Pyramid of the Magician, with the unique feature that although the sides are straight, the corners are totally rounded. The next one is the Nunnery Quadrangle where you will admire the Puuc architecture at its best; and the last; the Governors Palace. Of course this is not all, there are plenty other constructions in between like the Great Pyramid, the ball court and many other smaller in size.
For more information about Uxmal visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN, MEX$ or $). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get there
Buses from Merida are the easiest option. These depart from the ATS Station (Second Class bus station) just around the corner of the main bus station CAME. It is around 1 hour journey there but times are quite limited. We managed a bus going at 09.30am and because later in that day we were departing by bus to Cancun, we could not count with much time in Uxmal. A return bus was at 12.00 noon and the next at 15.00pm. We took the one at noon giving us only hour and a half to visit the site.
Now please be aware that the returning bus will certainly be not on time. You might end up waiting for the bus even one hour. Our 12.00 o’clock was coming around 13.00pm. The worst was the heat and sun waiting there in the nowhere but thankfully there are benches under some trees where you can get shadow. Only bear in mind there are no places to buy water.
The site opens from 08.00am until 17.00pm, and as explained in the Chichen Itza guide, you need to purchase 2 tickets in order to get inside. 129Mex$ for the entrance tax and 57Mex$ for the ticket, so 186Mex$ all together.
How to visit the site
Being half of the size of Chichen Itza, there is not really a route you should consider optimal to visit the site. Also a great benefit is that this place is not so touristy at all for what you will have great chances to shoot great pictures with no one around.
The main path is self explained. Right after you enter through the only gates you will have in front of you the most characteristic building of this site, the Pyramid of the Magician. From here try to follow a route so you don’t make any zig zag around. Either if you decide to head right or left of the pyramid, you will be following a more or less circle route so it’s your choice in here. There are not any difficulties or tips to give you in this case. It is really straightforward.
Remember to bring with you plenty of water. This place can get seriously hot and there are very limited vendors around selling drinks.