Exploring the Mayapan Ruins

As part of my late-December 2017 trip to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, I visited the ruins at Mayapan. I had read several enthusiastic reviews about this site and indeed, it is highly underrated. Compared to more well known ruins like Chichen Itza which are overrun with tourists, we had Mayapan nearly to ourselves at some points. It’s definitely worth the effort to get there!

Well actually, if you have a rental car as we did, it doesn’t require much effort at all. You just take Highway 180 from Merida (toward Cancun/Valladolid) for about 8 kilometers. Then turn south onto Highway 184 for an additional 36 kilometers. There is good signage for the Mayapan Ruins along the way and the roads are modern and fast. The drive took about 45 minutes.

Without a car, it’s a bit of a chore. From Merida, you options are to take a second-class bus, a collectivo (like a shared van), or hire a taxi. There is an excellent information on Peter’s Travels blog about using public transportation to reach the Mayapan Ruins.

Admission was 45 pesos per person at the time of our visit – a bargain to be sure. Click on any photo to see a larger version.

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According to wikipedia, Mayapan was the last great capital of the Maya in the Yucatan. Mayapan means “The flag (or banner) of the Mayas”. The site was active from approximately years 1220 to 1440. To support its population of 15,000 to 17,000 residents,┬áthere were over 4000 buildings constructed. Although obviously many have deteriorated to where they are no longer visible.

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The Temple of the Painted Niches.

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The large pyramid is┬áthe Temple of Kukulcan, the main temple of Mayapan. For better or worse, you can climb any structure that you wish at Mayapan. Although I personally wasn’t too adventurous because of my fear of heights.

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The Temple of Kukulcan.

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We spent arout 90 minutes at Mayapan, which I think was about the right amount of time. I won’t bore you with all of my photos of the ruins but if you do want to see them, check out my flickr album. On the way back to Hwy 180, we stopped at the pretty little town of Acanceh, which you can read about here.