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Archeological sites near Mérida

In addition to being a fascinating city in its own right, rich in history and culture, Mérida is also a great base from which to explore many surrounding Mayan archaeological sites. There are many to choose from, but these are the 4 archeological sites near Merida you have to explore.

Uxmal

Pyramids with rounded edges and intricate facades, Uxmal (pronounced Oosh-mal) ranks high on our list of “must-see” archaeological sites near Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Pyramid of the Magician welcomes you upon arrival as if displaying the architectural prowess of the Mayans. This 15-foot-tall pyramid, mythically built in one night, has a small opening at the top that creates an echo when you clap your hands. If the site doesn’t surprise you with the echo, then the intricate mosaic facades of the so-called Nun’s Quadrangle are sure to seduce you. Look closely to see the figure of a serpent that undulates along the structure. For a bird’s-eye view, climb the Great Pyramid and look across this ancient city looming above lush green wildlife. You can also assist to the very pretty Uxmal night show.

Dzibilchaltun

Dzibilchaltun

One of the closest Mayan archaeological sites near Mérida is Dzibilchaltun, whose name is believed to mean “the place with the writing on the stones.” Just a ten minute drive from Merida, it is an excellent option for an interesting morning or afternoon trip. The most impressive structure is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, named for the dolls that were found there. Anthropologists differ as to the meaning of these dolls, but you can take a look at them in the local museum and decide for yourself. The cenote X’lacah (sinkhole) found in Dzibilchaltun is one of the largest and deepest on the peninsula with more than 130 feet deep. You can book a tour Dzibilchaltun site or go on your own.

Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá

The mighty Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is also just a short drive from Merida. Just an hour and a half away, you can visit it as a day trip. Being the most internationally known Mayan site, it is surprisingly popular, but it is worth challenging the crowds to see some of the most impressive restored structures in the Mayan world. Be amazed by El Castillo, the iconic Chichén Itzá pyramid that is so perfectly aligned with the sun that every year at the equinox the shadow of a snake descends its steps. As with most archaeological sites, it is worth going with a guide to really understand the significance of all the stone structures, inscriptions, and carvings.

Ruta Puuc

Ruta Puuc

Traveling the Puuc Route is a great way to see a variety of archaeological sites that feature the particular architectural style known as Puuc. There are buses that run the entire route or you can rent a car and drive at your own pace. The route generally includes Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak, and Labna. The sites are in various states of restoration and each site has a feature of particular interest. A standard feature of Puuc architecture in the region is the representation of Chaac, the god of rain. By the end of your journey along the Puuc Route, you’ll be an expert at spotting his distinguishable large, bent nose.

Archeological sites near Mérida

 

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