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THE PUUC ROUTE                                                                                                                                       Printer friendly version



The Puuc Route is located in the southwestern part of the Yucatán below Mérida. It consists of a number of ruins: Kabáh, Sayil, Labná, the Caves of Lol-Tún and the famous Uxmal. The Puuc style is recognizable by its sophisticated architecture made up of clean lines, rounded walls, ornate stone frescos with intricate patterns, rows of columns and high vaulted arches. Each of the sites has restored Mayan pyramids and other structures, covered with bush, tree and jungle, much the way early explorers and archeologists found them. Many of the buildings are flat, low elongated built on artificial platforms and laid out in quadrangles. They are perhaps the most elegant ruins in the Maya world.

These caverns, whose name comes from the Maya "Lol" - Flower and "Tún" - Stone, are one of the biggest known from the huge cave system that covers a great territory in southern Yucatán. They are located within the Puuc hills of Yucatán and are open to the public. They have been arranged for a safe tour that measures approximately 0.62 miles long in its interior by means of illuminated paths. In addition to being a fabulous natural phenomenon, Lol-Tún is an important archeological site. These caves contain evidence of humans’ earliest presence in Yucatán. Researchers have found a collection of bones belonging to extinct mammals, including mammoths, dated from 9000 - 7500 BC. Early pre-Classic ceramics (2000 - 1250 BC) have also been discovered here. The most important archeological find is the relief called "The Warrior," which is just outside the entrance. Researchers believe that it was carved in the Izapan style of Kaminaljuyu, the enormous pre-Classic site near Guatemala City.

Labná, once a city of some 1.500 to 2.500 people, inhabited between 750 to 1000 AD. Presently four buildings are in a restored state. Notice the caretakers open thatched roof home as you enter the site. The palace at this site has 70 chultunes (water cisterns) that are not visible. There is also an artistically intricate arch at this site.

, which means "unglued walls," a site of some 14 mounds and three somewhat, restored pyramids. This site and Sayil are less restored and manicured so you can see how the sites looked like when they were discovered. Notice the many carved stones just laying around on the ground.

, which means "The Place of the Ants." At the entrance you will see an outdoor museum under a thatched roof. Check out the huge Stella dating from 800 - 1000 AD. This site is home to a beautiful palace that included 90 bedrooms for some 350 people. From the top level of the palace you can see the church at Santa Elena and across the way a tiny ruin on the side of a mountain, which is called "The Nine Masks."

is famous for its "Palace of Chaac Masks" (Chaac is the Mayan rain god). Also here is the much photographed arch that is thought to be the center of the city and the entrance to the sacbe (white road or Mayan highway) that went to Uxmal.

Located 80 kilometers south of Mérida in a range of low hills covered with bushes, Uxmal is the largest Maya city of the Puuc region. The city is believed to have been the hub of a district that includes the sites of Kabáh, Sayil, Labná, and Xlapak. These sites, largely restored, experienced their golden years between 800 – 1000 AD. The characteristics of the Puuc architecture are the thin squares of limestone veneer, decorated cornices, boot-shaped vault stones, rows of attached half columns, and upper facades heavily decorated with stone mosaics. The city is characterized by its quadrangles in which large, elongated, multi roomed buildings form a closed complex around a square courtyard. The Nunnery Quadrangle is considered the most outstanding example of Puuc architecture in the Maya world. Little is known of the origins and development of this important political, economic and learning centre. Although the Maya word Uxmal means "Thrice Built", there is strong evidence that it has been rebuilt five times. The site offers a light and sound show.

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Yucatan, Lol-Tun Caverns, Puuc Route, Entrance 3 - Photo by German Murillo-Echavarria 0405

Entrance at The Caves of Lol-Tún

Yucatan, Labna, Archeological zone, Puuc Route, Arch - Photo by  German Murillo-Echavarria 0405
The Arch at Labná
Yucatan, Xlapak, Archeological zone, Puuc Route, Palace - Photo by Xlapak
The Palace at Xlapak
Yucatan, Sayil, Archeological zone, Puuc Route, Great Palace - Photo by German Murillo Echavarria 0405
The Great Palace at Sayil