Ek’ Balam

Ekbalam, Yuc., Mexico

Visitors to the Yucatán and the Riviera Maya never miss Chichen Itza, but there is another hidden and almost unknown archaeological Mayan ruin called Ek’ Balam. Set in jungle, the site is not well known because it was discovered much later than other ancient sites in the Yucatán and restoration only started 20 years ago. As such, this great ruin is not yet on the tourist circuit and currently visited only by those in the know. Located 30 minutes drive north of Valladolid, the ruins cover an area of 10 square miles. With only the center of the site excavated, there are currently more than 40 buildings and pyramids to explore. The “Plaza Norte” is the biggest and oldest of all the plazas and it hosts the Acropolis with six levels, vaulted ceilings and over 72 rooms. On the fourth level you can find one of the most impressive construction feats of the whole mayan culture: “La Casa Blanca de la Lectura”. Ek’ Balam was inhabited by the Mayas between 600 BC and 1600 AC, which makes it a site with one of the longest continued occupations by this ancient culture. There are plenty of tour agencies in Merida that can arrange the trip for you or it’s an easy two hour drive by car from Merida. Visit now before it becomes the latest tourist discovery and you’ll have the whole place to yourself.

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The Black Jaguar

Between Cancun and Chichen Itza is another fascinating Maya archaeological site, called Ek Balam. It lies just north of the toll road and since it’s overlooked by most tourist and day trippers, you’ll likely have the place to youself. The site has plenty of temples and raised platforms to explore, along with elaborately incised stelae and a ballcourt. However the main draw is the massive main pyramidal structure that features a plaster facade of a toothed jaguar mouth surrounded by hieroglyphic elements and other mythological beings featured in Maya lore.

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