Ruins > Dzibilchaltun

Dzibilchaltun, a modern Mayan name meaning "writing on flat stones" doesn't have huge pyramids like Chichen Itza or Uxmal, but like Tulum, it has its own charms, including a Franciscan chapel in the middle of the Mayan ruins, a very nice museum worth spending time in, well preserved steles in an open air, but protected garden and a large and beautiful cenote that you can swim in. Pronounced the same, you might also see Dzilbilchaltun spelled Tz'ibilchaltun, which is the Yucatecan form of Mayan.

Hours: 8:00-5:00. Museum open 8:00-4:00

Dzibilchaltun temple of the dolls

map to Dzibilchaltun

How to get there: Dzibilchaltun is located about 8 KM north of Merida on the road to Progresso. The turnoff is well marked on the right and continues on for 4.6 km to the ruin.

Another interesting feature is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, pictured at the right. The Temple was so named because of 7 figurines that were found inside. The Dolls are displayed in the museum.

It's not very large, but during the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun lines up with the stone on the platform shown above. On those days, the site is opened specially at 5:30 AM for visitors to see the sunrise.

An interesting fact about Dzibilchaltun is that it is not only very old, but continuously occupied from 1500 BC to shortly before the Spanish conquest -- over 3000 years. It was a wealthy port and center of Mayan coastal trade and had a population of about 20,000 at one time. Its decline matched the rise of Chichen Itza, although occupation continued

Temple of the 7 dolls
Dzibilchaltun temple
. The site is very large, covering around 30 square km. Restoration still continues here. The ruin pictured to the left, part of the South Plaza looks so clean and new because they had just finished restoring it when we took this picture. On subsequent visits we have found that there has been a lot of brush growing around the site so it is not as clean.
Standing in the middle of Dzibilchaltun is the remains of a Catholic chapel built for Franciscan missionaries around 1600. The museum has quite a few Catholic relics from the church as well as a lot of information about the religious practices of the Mayans before and after their conversion to Catholicism.
Dzibilchaltun catholic chapel
Dzibilchaltun cenote
Dzibilchaltun has one of the most beautiful cenotes we have ever seen in Mexico. Cenote Xlacah provided the city with its water supply. Xlacah means 'Old Town' and this is frequently used as a name for the whole of Dzibilchaltun by local Maya. The cenote is 44 meters deep. Divers have recovered over 30,000 artifacts in the cenote. Lily pads cover most of the cenote, but we were assured of the cleanliness of the water.
You can see from the picture on the right how beautiful and turquoise the water is. You can see a small temple next to the cenote and on Sundays, you will find locals swimming in the cenote. On the opposite side of the cenote (from where the picture at the right was taken) there were currently uncovering a new temple. We were so interested in the procedures they were going through that we failed to take a picture of the building.
dzibilchaltun cenote and temple
Dzibilchaltun structure
Because they were in the process of restoring the site when we were there, we weren't sure what this structure was. It was a long structure with stair and a platform with 4 foot high stone pedestals. They almost seemed like a huge amphitheater, but we were unable to figure it out. Nevertheless, it was an impressive site.

Last updated: June 21, 2011

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