Ruins > Mayapan

The ruins of Mayapan are noted for their colorful murals, original stucco work and Chichen Itza like "sun temple." The site is an active site, with an extensive research program that was undertaken from 2002 - 2004 where many figurines, pottery, weapons and other artifacts were found. An unusual find on the site was a group of small bells, the use of which is unknown.

Hours: 8:00-5:00. Daily

Average visit time: allow 1.5 hours. Most temples can be climbed.

How to get there: Mayapan is located in the state of Yucatan, southeast of Merida on Highway 184. It is well marked and the road is good from Merida, past Mayapan all the way to Mayan Beach Garden. Mayapan is not a day trip from Mayan Beach Garden, but part of "the Mayan Loop" if you find yourself fortunate to have the time to drive around the Yucatan Peninsula. If you are driving from Merida to the Costa Maya area, you will pass directly past Mayapan, so plan an hour to visit.

Mayapan has several well preserved carvings on the site. These beautiful birds adorn one of the walls around the temples. An interesting part of the site includes several statues with the heads removed.


The architecture at Mayapan is patterned after the beautiful buildings at Chichen Itza. The large temple at the left is " El Castillo de Kukulcán" and bears a striking resemblance to El Castille at Chichén Itzá.

El Castillo de Kukulcan was documented by Catherwood and Stevenson. "It is sixty feet high and one hundred feet square at the base... Four grand staircases, each twenty-five feet wide, ascend to an esplanade within six feet of the top... These staircases are all in a ruinous condition; the steps are almost entirely gone, and we climbed up by means of fallen stones... The summit was a plain stone platform, fifteen feet square. It had no structure upon it, nor were there any vestiges of any... far in the distance could be discerned the towers of the church at Tekoh (Tecoh)."

Mayapan was the most important center of the Mayan civilization in the period prior to the Spanish conquest ( 1250 - 1450 AD). We know this from Mayan Literature and the first Spanish documentation of the area. It was the most important center of the Mayan civilization in the previous period to the arrival of the Hispanics. It is unclear if Mayapan actually defeated Chichen-Itza, which continued to be inhabited even during Mayapan's dominance, but Mayapan itself was abandoned in the mid-15th century.

View from the top of Kukulkan
Mayapan's observatory, shares a striking resemblance to that of Chichen Itza's, although not as high off the ground. Illustrating the decline of Post Classic Mayan civilization, Mayapan was an inferior copy of the Toltec-dominated Chichen-Itza architectural style.

Last updated: June 21, 2011

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