Mayan Ruins on the Yucatán

When it comes to visiting Mayan ruins in Mexico the choices seem endless. travel writer Habeeb Salloum discovers two beautiful and not to be missed locations in his journey through the Yucatán. He recommends: Ek Balam and Cobá: Hidden Jewels of Mayan Splendour.

“After driving for about 20 minutes to the north of Valladolid, our bus stopped at the Mayan renovated gate of the ruins of the newly excavated archaeological site of Ek Balam (in Mayan Black Jaguar) – once the capital of a state of 250,000. One of the ultimate jewels of Mayan splendour, the ruins are rarely visited by the thousands of travellers who flock to the land of the Maya. Unlike its sister city, Chichén Itzá, some 30 minutes drive away, Ek Balam has never been overwhelmed with tourists. Quieter and more peaceful than its sister city, it exudes an aura of satisfying pleasure to the few travellers who stroll amid its partially excavated structures.

The city, when compared to other Mayan cities had a long span of life – about a thousand years. Its construction began in 100 B.C. and continued until 900 A.D. From 600 to 900 A.D., Ek Balam, rose to the Pinnacle of glory. Some historians believe that it was still partially inhabited when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century.

The most important of its uncovered structures is the enormous and elaborate palace/pyramid – a striking sight after driving for miles through the surrounding jungle. The largest restored building in the ruins and one of the largest Mayan structures in the Yucatán, it measures over 151 m ( 495 ft) long, 60 m (197 ft) wide and 30 m (98 ft) high. The structure consists of six levels, added on by different rulers during the centuries. This unique religious-civil edifice was, beside its use for religious ceremonies, the home of governors and the higher classes of society.”