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Ek' Balam Mayan ruins near Valladolid worth a visit

Archaeologists believe Ek' Balam was founded around 300 BC and became an important commercial center, its influence peaking in 700-1100 AD; the site is only 30 minutes from Valladolid but receives a fraction the tourists of Chichen-Itza

Archaeologists believe Ek' Balam was founded around 300 BC and became an important commercial center, its influence peaking in 700-1100 AD; the site is only 30 minutes from Valladolid but receives a fraction the tourists of Chichen-Itza

At 105 ft high and 515 ft wide, the Acropolis is bigger than Chichen-Itza's main pyramid, and is one of the largest Mayan pyramids ever built; the palapa roofs have been added to protect stucco reliefs

At 105 ft high and 515 ft wide, the Acropolis is bigger than Chichen-Itza's main pyramid, and is one of the largest Mayan pyramids ever built; the palapa roofs have been added to protect stucco reliefs

Ek' Balam is noted for the preservation of the plaster on the tomb of Ukit Kan Lek Tokʼ, a king buried in the side of the Acropolis; known as The Throne, this frieze was untouched until the 1990s when workers discovered it beneath a hidden chamber

Ek' Balam is noted for the preservation of the plaster on the tomb of Ukit Kan Lek Tokʼ, a king buried in the side of the Acropolis; known as The Throne, this frieze was untouched until the 1990s when workers discovered it beneath a hidden chamber

With the discovery of the Throne, Ek' Balam (Maya for black jaguar) has become increasingly important to Mayan scholars and a more popular tourist draw;  admission is roughly $22 but you can enjoy the ruins without the usual mammoth tour groups

With the discovery of the Throne, Ek' Balam (Maya for black jaguar) has become increasingly important to Mayan scholars and a more popular tourist draw; admission is roughly $22 but you can enjoy the ruins without the usual mammoth tour groups

Excavations on the Acropolis didn't begin until 1998; elaborate wall paintings discovered here consist of texts, amongst these the 'Mural of the 96 Glyphs,' a masterwork of calligraphy comparable to the 'Tablet of the 96 Glyphs' from Palenque

Excavations on the Acropolis didn't begin until 1998; elaborate wall paintings discovered here consist of texts, amongst these the 'Mural of the 96 Glyphs,' a masterwork of calligraphy comparable to the 'Tablet of the 96 Glyphs' from Palenque

The view from atop the 105 ft high Acropolis was impressive; given the flat terrain, it seemed we should be able to see the pyramids of Coba or Chichen-Itza and we saw a few possibilities but nothing definitive

The view from atop the 105 ft high Acropolis was impressive; given the flat terrain, it seemed we should be able to see the pyramids of Coba or Chichen-Itza and we saw a few possibilities but nothing definitive

La Rodunda, or the Oval Palace, has an eclectic array of overlapping lines and curves, stairs and terraces; it underwent numerous iterations with experts thinking it had both astronomical and ceremonial purposes at different times

La Rodunda, or the Oval Palace, has an eclectic array of overlapping lines and curves, stairs and terraces; it underwent numerous iterations with experts thinking it had both astronomical and ceremonial purposes at different times

Cenote Xcanche is very convenient as it's right next to the Ek' Balam ruins; the last admission to the cenote is at 3:30pm, for some reason much earlier than all of the other cenotes in the Yucatan

Cenote Xcanche is very convenient as it's right next to the Ek' Balam ruins; the last admission to the cenote is at 3:30pm, for some reason much earlier than all of the other cenotes in the Yucatan

Of the 20  cenotes we visited, Cenote Xcanche was one of my two favorites; you could enjoy the swinging rope or jump (the water is about 90 feet deep) off one of the wooden platforms

Of the 20+ cenotes we visited, Cenote Xcanche was one of my two favorites; you could enjoy the swinging rope or jump (the water is about 90 feet deep) off one of the wooden platforms

Unlike some cenotes, particularly on the Riviera Maya, Cenote Xcanche is community-owned: there is a huge focus on sustainable ecotourism and any profits benefit the local community; I loved the roots and vines which gave the cenote a jungle atmosphere

Unlike some cenotes, particularly on the Riviera Maya, Cenote Xcanche is community-owned: there is a huge focus on sustainable ecotourism and any profits benefit the local community; I loved the roots and vines which gave the cenote a jungle atmosphere

There was a lifeguard on duty most of the time who didn't seem to mind kids jumping into the cenote from the top of the stairs; snorkeling isn't worthwhile since all you see is the same type of small catfish that live in all the Yucatan cenotes

There was a lifeguard on duty most of the time who didn't seem to mind kids jumping into the cenote from the top of the stairs; snorkeling isn't worthwhile since all you see is the same type of small catfish that live in all the Yucatan cenotes

Built in a form that changed remarkably little during 2,700 years, 1,300  Mesoamerican ballcourts have been identified; all ballcourts have the same general shape: a long narrow playing alley flanked by walls with both horizontal and sloping surfaces

Built in a form that changed remarkably little during 2,700 years, 1,300+ Mesoamerican ballcourts have been identified; all ballcourts have the same general shape: a long narrow playing alley flanked by walls with both horizontal and sloping surfaces

Deciphering the purpose of Mayan buildings is challenging because the custom of their architects was to use structures from earlier periods as the foundations for new ones; the lack of signage also contributed to visitors wondering what they were viewing

Deciphering the purpose of Mayan buildings is challenging because the custom of their architects was to use structures from earlier periods as the foundations for new ones; the lack of signage also contributed to visitors wondering what they were viewing

Ek' Balam is surrounded by two concentric walls which served defensive purposes; these walls (the inner wall was 6 1/2 ft high and 10 ft wide) were the largest in the Late Classic Yucatan, and had a symbolic meaning of protection and military strength

Ek' Balam is surrounded by two concentric walls which served defensive purposes; these walls (the inner wall was 6 1/2 ft high and 10 ft wide) were the largest in the Late Classic Yucatan, and had a symbolic meaning of protection and military strength

Unlike most of the Mayan sites we visited on this trip, Ek' Balam is very compact and can easily be seen in an hour; if you visit, definitely see Cenote Xcanche next door which was one of the most enjoyable cenotes we found

Unlike most of the Mayan sites we visited on this trip, Ek' Balam is very compact and can easily be seen in an hour; if you visit, definitely see Cenote Xcanche next door which was one of the most enjoyable cenotes we found

The decoration of the building facades at Ek' Balam was not done with figures carved in stone (as at Chichen-Itza and Uxmal, for example) but with stucco or limestone mortar, modeled into distinct forms and painted

The decoration of the building facades at Ek' Balam was not done with figures carved in stone (as at Chichen-Itza and Uxmal, for example) but with stucco or limestone mortar, modeled into distinct forms and painted

At its height from 770 to 840 AD, Ekʼ Balam provides a rich resource of information for understanding northern Classic cities, due to the poor preservation of many other notable northern Maya sites (e.g. Coba and Edzna); it's 35 miles NE of Chichen-Itza

At its height from 770 to 840 AD, Ekʼ Balam provides a rich resource of information for understanding northern Classic cities, due to the poor preservation of many other notable northern Maya sites (e.g. Coba and Edzna); it's 35 miles NE of Chichen-Itza

Ek' Balam was rediscovered and explored first by influential archaeologist Désiré Charnay in the late 1800s but extensive excavation didn't take place until a century later; only the center of Ekʼ Balam has been excavated so more discoveries are expected

Ek' Balam was rediscovered and explored first by influential archaeologist Désiré Charnay in the late 1800s but extensive excavation didn't take place until a century later; only the center of Ekʼ Balam has been excavated so more discoveries are expected

Posted by VagabondCowboy 11:22

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