Uxmal – Pyramid of the Magician and Nuns’ Quadrangle – Puuc

Pyramid of the Magician
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Uxmal in the Puuc region

Uxmal is a former Mayan city located on the Yucatan Peninsula, more precisely in its northern part, in the Puuc region. The Puuc hill range, about 100 km south of Merida, was a good defensive site for the Maya. An additional advantage was the fertile land, ideal for growing maize.

The weather in this part of the peninsula is much drier than in its center, in addition natural wells, the so-called cenotes are rather rare. This resulted in the need to store water in special tanks (chultunes). Nevertheless, several ruins of ancient Mayan cities have been discovered in the Puuc region, incl. Kabah, Sayil, Labná, and also Uxmal, which ruled the region.

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Ruins under the Governor’s Palace and characteristic geometric decorations
Puuc style

The Puuc region, despite the lack of water, quickly populated. It is believed that Uxmal and other cities in the region reached their peak of development in the late Classic Period, between 600 and 850 AD. The Maya centers were connected by a network of the so-called white roads, used mainly for ceremonial purposes.

View of Uxmal
View of Uxmal – pelota pitch on the left and the Pyramid of the Magician on the right

A coherent style of architecture, the Puuc style, was also created. Its characteristic elements are stone mosaics full of geometric details as well as masks on the walls of the buildings. In Uxmal we can find numerous decorations in the form of images of the rain god Chaca, which, as it is believed, indicates the scarcity of water in the Mayan times.

The Governor’s Palace and the Nuns’ Quadrangle

The most important buildings in Uxmal are the Pyramid of the Magician, the Governor’s Palace and the Nuns’ Quadrangle. It is necessary to admit that the buildings were given surprisingly figurative names by the Spaniards who came to Mexico. They simply did not know the function of the Mayan buildings or their purpose.

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Ruins of Mayan buildings in Uxmal
Oval Pyramid of the Magician

The Pyramid of the Magician is by far the most extraordinary monument in Uxmal, and in my opinion also the most characteristic pyramid in Mexico, except maybe the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán. The pyramid’s uniqueness is due to the fact that it was built on an oval base.

It was created in 5 stages in the period from the 6th to the 10th century. At each of these stages, another temple was built on top of the existing one. In this way, the impressive 35 m high pyramid, existing to this day, was created. It is hard to imagine, but originally it was almost entirely red, except for blue, yellow and black details. Despite the lack of colors, the Pyramid of the Magician is sure to be remembered. 🙂


Photographs of Uxmal

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  • Pyramid of the Magician
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  • Nunnery Quadrangle
  • Nunnery Quadrangle
  • Pyramid of the Magician
  • Nunnery Quadrangle
  • Pelota field in Uxmal
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  • Uxmal DSC 8254 mini
  • Governor's Palace
  • View of Uxmal
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  • Uxmal DSC 8400 mini
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  • Uxmal DSC 8420 mini

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Carly BB

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