Maya Ruins > Ek Balam, North of Villadolid and Chichen Itza

Ek Balam (meaning 'black jaguar') is located north of Valladolid on Highway 295. Ek Balam is one of the best kept secrets in the Yucatan. If you have a car and are visiting Chichen Itza, this is a good site to see in the middle of the day when the tourists buses are making Chichen Itza crowded. Allow at least an hour for the visit.

Hours: 8:00 am- 5:00 PM

Chacchoben site map
Edifice 24
Ek Balam has one of the longest records of occupation in the northern peninsula, from about AD 100 until the Conquest. The settlement is said to have been founded by a great lord also called Ek Balam. It became a significant city from about the year 400 and rose to power in 700-1000, the period that resulted in the largest structures. The size of Ek Balam's main buildings indicates that it was an important center in the northern region prior to the rise of Chichen Itza.
The strangest structure at Ek Balam is a semi-spiral shaped round tower that looks very un-Mayan. The building is asymmetrical and the reason that it was built is a mystery, but it may have been used in astronomical ceremonies or observations.
You'll find few people at Ek Balam, even in the middle of the day. We found ourselves the only visitors at the site. Ek Balam is an active archaeological site, with a newly excavated structure called "La Torre". Recent INAH excavations revealed stunning stucco work ornamenting many of the pyramid's terraces and entryways. Once the work is complete, it will truly rival any site in the Yucatan.
To find out more about Ek Balam check out this student site from Tulane University -- admittedly, this is a much better set of pictures than exist here. The images are huge, so have patience. .
Mesoamerican Photo Archive: Ek Balam

Last updated: June 21, 2011

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