Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Saturday, September 13, 2014


A few days ago I wrote about Chichén Itzá, the most famous Mayan archaeological site in the Yucatán, and how it has become a victim of its own popularity with tourists.  About 60 miles away from Chichén Itzá is a lesser known site, the ruins of Mayapan.  After Chichén Itzá was abandoned, Mayapan became the dominant city in the Yucatán.  It was at its height during the 13th and 14th centuries, and may have had a population of over 12,000 people.  It was an important commercial hub, and there is evidence of trade with Guatemala and central Mexico.  The archaeological site is extensive, but the restored ceremonial center is relatively small.  It would seem the city was more involved in its commercial enterprises than building imposing monuments glorifying their rulers and their gods.  Nevertheless, the grandeur of Chichén Itzá was not forgotten, and the architects of Mayapan created a smaller and cruder imitation of the famous city.

The principal structure of Mayapan is a pyramid that is reminiscent of the great Temple of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.  The staircase has not been completely restored, but there were no signs that prohibited climbing the pyramid, so I carefully made my way to the top.

From the top there is an excellent view of the ruins and the flat landscape of the Yucatán.
Next to the pyramid is a round structure (unusual in Mayan architecture) which is a smaller copy of the Observatory at Chichén Itzá.

The ruins display less artistic skill than is seen the older cities.  There are, however, some carvings on the walls, as well as masks of Chac, the rain god, a typical feature of the Mayan sites of the Yucatán. 


In 1441 Mayapan was sacked and burned by a rival tribe of Mayans, and, by the time that the Spanish arrived, it had been long abandoned.

Mayapan is certainly not at the top of the list of Mayan sites to see in the Yucatán, but for those interested in archaeology, it makes an interesting excursion.  And, if you are weary of the crowds at Chichén Itzá, you will find that you will have have the ruins of Mayapan almost to yourself!



  1. Wonderful series of photos. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. And thank YOU for visiting my blog, and taking the time to comment!

  2. The city of Mayapan was superseded by Tho a city located where Merida stands now. The bigger towns and cities of today's Yucatan are mostly all built on towns that were occupied by Mayans at the time of the conquest. The reason we have any ruins today is that there were no Mayans to enslave living on the ruins. Tho had five pyramids that were quickly turned into churches and government buildings.

    There is a little town called Mama a short ways from Mayapan, one can still see the old carved Maya stone in the church and convent . If you are ever back to Yucatan, Mama is worth the effort. A dusty cross road the world has passed by, falling apart it is but that is its charm.