Over the years, I have had the joy of visiting many temples of the Maya, mostly when I was living in Guatemala. They were all magnificent and intriguing. But my favorite was and still remains Tikal. Maybe because I spent a lot of time there. I have also visited Yaxchilan, Ceibal, Copan, El Mirador, Bonampok, Dos Pilas, Naj Tunich, Uaxactun to name just a few. When you live in-country, you get the opportunity to really explore. So fun.
Tikal, in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala is just stunning in that you are in the jungle as you wander from temple to temple. There are often Spider or Howler monkeys over head. Climbing temple five just before sunrise or sunset fills you with a near out-of-body experience. The photos below are very old, but I hope you get the idea.
My latest Mayan temple experiences were in the Yucatan state of Mexico. We went to Uxmal, Kabah and Chichen Itza. Our first outing took us to Kabah and Uxmal. Again we joined Mayaland tours and on this trip, two wonderful women from Australia. Our guide was an old-timer that spoke, and helped to promote the learning in school of, the Mayan language. He also spoke Spanish, English and French – amazing!
Kabah is quite small, at least for viewing. Only a small part of the site has been excavated. The main structure is the Palace of Masks, or sometimes called the Governer’s Palace. Upon its facade are over 250 faces of Chac, the God of Rain. Kabah is situated far from the subterranean rivers and cenotes, so the Maya of Kabah were dependent on rains from the heavens to water their most precious crop, maize.
We then ventured down the road a short way and found ourselves in awe of the buildings at Uxmal.
This is the first (and arguably the most impressive) structure at the site. While not allowed to climb this, it was stunning just to look up and see its mastery. There are apparently two or three other temples inside this. It was the norm, when conquering, to simply use the previous structure as a base to build and even larger one.
Below, notice the unique rounded corners of the side view of the main temple in Uxmal.
We climbed one of the temples at Uxmal. While very steep (60 degree angle), it was fun to climb. Coming down was a bit more challenging.
The Maya were amazing engineers. Without any type of grout, they layed perfectly cut stones tight against each other, slowly moving inward to form giant temples.
Check out this arch! Nothing but engineering and physics.
Inside what was called the “Nunnery”- no reference to Christianity and no other explanation given, were a lot of long images that expanded the length of the buildings (some over 500 feet). Below is the head of snake that undulated along one of those walls.
Chac – Maya God of Rain
Poor Chac – his nose just didn’t make it through the centuries. These temples were built some time between 600 and 900 AD.
At the building below was a wonderfully restored Mayan arch.
Along the wall below – when it is noon on the solstice, all the Chac noses, are lit by the sun – leaving everything else in some shadow, apparently making it quite striking to see.
After a very sweaty (100 degrees F, 98% humidity) day at Kabah and Uxmal, we headed back to Merida and tumbled happily into our dipping pool at our wonderful VRBO.
All and all, Mayaland tours did a great job of hooking us up with a knowledgeable and friendly guide at Kabah and Uxmal and the transportation to and from was comfortable and air conditioned! Ahhh.
Coming up – our day trip to Chichen Itza.