Exciting news awaits those exploring the Mexican Caribbean, as two previously restricted sections of Uxmal are set to open to the public by year-end.
This development was announced by archaeologist José Huchim Herrera, director of the Uxmal Archaeological Park, during a press conference on Yucatan’s tourism and archeology.
This ancient city is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Yucatan State and the second most visited behind Chichen Itzá.
The areas in question, ‘El Palomar’ and ‘El Parque Hundido,’ were occasionally accessible in recent years, but reaching them often required navigating through dense jungle terrain.
So, the efforts to officially unveil these sections involve careful restoration work on the structures and the clearing of paths, with the goal of seamlessly integrating these hidden gems into the official visitor’s trail.
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The initiative is part of a broader program, PROMESA, which aims to restore, enhance, and promote other sites, including Kabah and Chichén Viejo, as part of the Maya Train project.
No official date has been announced yet, but meanwhile, let’s take a closer look at what this development entails and why it is expected to take Uxmal’s allure to new heights.
Uxmal’s Unique Architectural Legacy
Located about 90 km south of Mérida, Uxmal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a prime example of the impressive architectural prowess of the Mayans.
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The ancient city’s centerpiece, the Pyramid of The Magician, is peculiar in many ways.
Towering at around 35 m tall, it showcases a distinctive Puuc architectural style, featuring intricate patterns and detailed decorative elements.
Its elliptical base and steep slope are unusual for Mayan architecture, and interestingly, if you clap your hands at its base, the echo produced sounds much like the singing of a quetzal bird, sacred for the Mayans.
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And that’s not all. With some of the best-preserved Mayan archaeological structures, like the Governor’s Palace and the Ceremonial Ball Court, Uxmal offers a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the past.
What The Opening Of New Sections Means For Tourists
The opening of the two new sections will help archeologists and tourists get deeper insights into the sacred beliefs and daily life of this enigmatic city, as shared by archaeologist José Huchim Herrera, director of the Uxmal archaeological site.
“We are confident that visitors will have a different interpretation due to the unique architecture and uncommon elements present …Visitors will gain a distinct insight into the site, and the visit will require more time.”
“El Palomar” (The Dovecote), a square platform about 70 meters long and 40 meters wide, is located west of the pyramid, featuring a distinctive dovecote-like crest (hence the name) with nine stepped triangles on pillar-like niches.
On the other hand, the “Patio Hundido” (Sunken Park) is also a Puuc-style quadrangle with buildings on the southern side, some of which are currently under exploration, according to Huchim Herrera.
Additionally, significant Uxmal structures like the Grand Pyramid and the Governor’s Palace are undergoing restoration and maintenance efforts.
The archeologist highlighted that currently Uxmal is receiving approximately 350,000 visitors a year, and with these developments, added to the enhanced connectivity the Maya Train will bring; the number is expected to skyrocket to almost 1 million.
How To Get To Uxmal
The quickest way to reach the Uxmal archaeological zone is from Mérida city.
Renting a car or taking the bus from downtown Mérida both take about an hour and a half. Tour operators are also easy to find there, offering guided tours and day trips.
If you’re making the trip from Cancun, it’s a bit of a longer drive, about 4 hours. So it might be a good idea to stay overnight in Mérida. This way, you can access other archaeological sites and the city itself, which is well worth exploring.
Alternatively, there are day trips from Cancun that cover the archaeological site, provide a guide, lunch, a visit to a cenote, and more, but as you can imagine, they can be on the pricier side.
Finally, Uxmal is not a small site. So, don’t forget to pack some sunscreen, carry water, and dress comfortably for your visit to this fascinating ancient city.
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