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Maya Ruins > Balamku, Campeche

Balamku temple

These reliefs are covered by a stone temple with a door that you enter on the side. The door is locked, but you can enter with the aid of a worker on the site. While the pyramid is not too spectacular from the outside, the interior hides the beautiful images shown on this page.


Balamku Facade
This relief of a jaguar is over 12 feet tall and is one of three side by side carvings totaling over 60 feet long that were preserved due to the fact that they were covered by a secondary building. Detail of the jaguar is shown below.

Visiting hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The archaeological site is located inside a woodland area, offering to the visitor the opportunity of cohabiting with nature while going through this interesting prehispanic city. In Balamkú lies a frieze made of polichromated molded stucco, unique in the Mayan area, which was built between the years 550 and 650 A. D. Later on, this structure was covered with a pyramidal foundation that hid and protected the frieze. The detail reading of this work of great iconographic wealth reveals the ancient Mayan's complex conception of the world.

The frieze represents the surface of the Earth formed by several images such as jaguars that symbolize war, aquatic elements that represent fertility and masks of the Monster of the Earth (Cauac), separating the underworld (kingdom of the dead), from the supraworld (kingdom of the gods). From this surface aquatic animals emerge (2 toads and 2 crocodiles) with their mouth opened into 180░, which represent the Earth in its vegetative and fertile feature. The kings of the supraworld responsible of abundance and wealth of its subjects, emerge from them. While penetrating the edifice through its 3 doors that are located under the frieze, symbolizes the entrance to the Maya underworld.

Balamk˙, which in Maya means "Jaguar's Temple" (balam- jaguar, ku- temple) has carvings that are remarkable in their detail. Consisting of the three large images of a rabbit, an alligator and a jaguar, the major reliefs are flanked by many small animal carvings.


Original paintings can be seen on the carvings, therefore you cannot use flash to take a picture. We were lucky that we happened to have 800 ASA film with us and were able to get these images. We would have liked to get a picture of the entire wall, which was at least 50 feet long, but as it was enclosed in a building, it was difficult to get back far enough to photograph it.
Balamku frieze Close-up of the Jaguar portion of the 20 meter long stucco frieze.
Balamku temple This is the only other large building at Balamku. At the time this picture was taken you could climb it.

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Zoom both out and in to the Google map at the left to see the location of Balamku. If you zoom far enough, you will see that it is not far west of the road to Calakmul (however, the Calakmul road almost disappears as you zoom out)

Balamku, buecause it is small can be seen on the same day as Calakmul. Allow at least 45 minutes for Balamku and most of the day for Calakmul.

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