Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Exploring Mexico's Ek Balam


Although Chichen Itza is one of the Yucatan's most famous ancient sites, Ek Balam, located just 30 minutes away, predates Chichen Itza by 600 years and displays striking structures still being excavated. Ek Balam translates to "Black Jaguar" in Mayan and the imposing size of the buildings demonstrate how significant the city was to the Maya from about 500-900 AD. Despite this, Ek Balam is one of the best kept secrets in the Yucatan Peninsula.  There are very few crowds and I was able to stroll leisurely throughout the site.


Restoration has been ongoing at Ek Balam since 1997 and the uncovered buildings include a ball court, a tomb, a palace and a 96- feet-tall Acropolis pyramid. The structures are scattered closely so that you can explore the ruins easily if you like to climb. I recommend sturdy shoes, I saw a lot of lost flip flops on some of the ruins.



This is the towering flight of stairs that lead to the top of the Acropolis. They were so narrow and steep that I could barely fit my long feet on them.  So I opted not to go all the way up.



Instead, I took a detour to the newly uncovered  royal tomb. They discovered 700 offerings along with the king's skeleton, including jade, obsidian and carved shells. Those artifacts are in the Museum of Merida.


The tomb is guarded by high priests with flattened heads and crossed eyes. This was supposed to emphasize their difference from the lower classes. All the intermingling with the upper classes produced a lot of deformities, which were considered lucky.


The Acropolis offers wonderful views from the top.


Chichen Itza supplies stunning evidence of the astrological and archaeological wisdom of the Maya but Ek Balam provides the other half of the story, illustrating how they lived on an every day basis.

14 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

Marvellous. I love that combination of history and leisure. I don't know if I'd dared to go up those steps either. :-)

Many thanks.

Greetings from london.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, I think if the steps were broader, it wouldn't be so intimidating.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Beautiful. Those steps look a long climb, though.

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, I don't know if it was that it was a long climb as much as it was a difficult one.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That looks like an amazing historical site to explore :)

Fly Girl said...

Rachel, it was a lot of fun!

Magda Scrobota said...

really beautiful places to visit :)
i am following you, hope you do the same :)
besos
http://theothersideofwonderland.blogspot.com/

Fly Girl said...

Magda, Mexico is beautiful on so many levels. I will follow you too.

Ekua said...

Cool, thanks for sharing! The history behind the ruins in Mexico is endlessly fascinating. I'll definitely keep this place in mind if I find myself on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Fly Girl said...

Ekua, you'll get a kick out of it if you visit.

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

From your fine series here, Rosalind, this looks like a great site to visit.

Fly Girl said...

Andrew, thanks. It's a really accessible and interesting site.

travel clubs from exotic travels and vacations said...

That is such a beautiful and interesting part of the world..I'm interested to visit here.. Thanks for sharing!

Fly Girl said...

Travel clubs, it's a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for dropping by.