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Campeche:archaeology sites
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
 
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CALAKMUL, World Cultural Heritage.
lt is one of the biggest Mayan cities discovered until now, covering an area of 70 km2 (17300acres). It is located in the southeastern Campeche, by the Guatemala border, inside the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, the second American lung and the largest tropical forest in Mexico. The name means "two adjacent mounds". From A.D. 250 to 750, Calakmul was the center of the so called Serpent’s Head Kingdom, which comprised several Mayan lowlands, such as El Perú, Dos Pilas, Naranjo and Caracol. Its influence spread to regions as distant as the basins of Usumacinta and Río Pasión. It is the most mentioned site in the political history of Petén, region which covered a large part of the Mayan world.

Calakmul : Grand Acropolis About seven thousands structures were identified on this site : more than 120 steles representing elegantly dressed people as well as glyphs of calendar dating from A.D.500 to 850.
The heart of the city is located on a natural mound of an area of 25 km2 (6200 acres). At the center, two big pyramids look over the forest, and palaces with buildings surround patios and plazas. The highest of these pyramids, called Structure II, is the highest in the site with 45 m (148feet) high.

Left picture : Calakmul : Grand Acropolis

The Grand Acropolis was built as an urban space with a zone reserved for the ruling class and a public area divided in two sections. On the northern plaza consecrated to the sacrifices ceremonial, you find diverse constructions : the structure XIII and its annex, the structure XIV and the Ball court. Facing this ensemble, South Plaza was reserved for the public acts with structure XV and diverse buildings standing among many steles.

The residential zone at the west of the Grand Acropolis comprises an ensemble of palaces surrounding 14 patios and small plazas. The size of every structure depended on the politic and economic power of the occupants. At the very north, you can see two of these residential ensembles : House of 6 Ahaw and Utsiaal Caan.

Some ensembles had an only residential function. Among them, there are the Small Acropolis and the ensemble of Northern Acropolis. They are sometimes preceded by structures that looked as if the inhabitants were an important family of the Serpent’s Head Kingdom.

The archaeological zone of Calakmul has been on the list of the world cultural heritage since June 27, 2002. UNESCO legalized the approval during the Assembly of the World heritage Comity. This nomination made Campeche the sixth Mexican state to have two nominations from UNESCO (Calakmul and the fortified town of Campeche) :

The biosphere reserve is the land to more than 1,100 different plants, 90 types of mammals, about 235 species of birds (among them, 60 are migratory). The more emblematic animals of the reserve are the jaguar, the ocelot, the howler monkey, the tapir, the boa constrictor, the tiger, the ocellus peacock and the toucan. The reserve was created by decree by the Mexican presidency in 1989.

The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve forms the heart of a much larger region: the Maya Forest. Across the Americas, only the Amazon rainforest stretches farther. The diversity of plant and animal life astounds visitors.



 Biosphere reserve of Calakmul

72 farming communities are still living in the reserve and four of them are Mayas. For most of them, these communities arrived as part of a governmental political policy of colonization of the zone. These people came from different states and it is why there is a huge cultural diversity in this region.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$46.


 

EDZNÁ, "the house of grimaces"
It is located 61 km (38miles) southeast of Campeche. The name comes from "House of the Itzáes". The city became the regional capital of the western part of the peninsula from A.D.400 to 1000 and experienced a big boom in architecture and engineering. For example, they built a set of canals and dam to stock and dispatch water.
Light and sound on Edzná You will notice the Grand Acropolis, a huge quadrilateral on which several monumental structures stand, especially the Five Store Building. This is the most important construction of the site and fruit of an amazing architectural mixed race. There is a nice panoramic view from the top (height 30 m or 100 feet).

     Right picture : Light and sound on Edzná

Other remarkable constructions are the Main Plaza, the Platform of the Knives, the Patio of the Ambassadors, the Big House( with terraces for administrative purposes), the South Temple, the Ball Court, the Temple of the Masks (with wonderful stucco masks), the small Acropolis and the North Temple. A sacbé leads from the Grand Acropolis to a group of habitations located between the Temple of the Knives and the Nohol Na, with more constructions around it.
This ensemble reproduces the model of the complexes of Petén (Guatemala).
The Puuc Patio, the North Edifice and the Temple of the Old Witch are some of the imposing constructions of this old Mayan ceremonial center. Edzná is a nice example of what was the Mayan urban organization.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$46.

Edzná Edznà

      Above pictures : Edznà


Take a bus from Campeche, on calle República, in front of the Garden Alameda, at 7 AM, 10 AM and 11 AM (1hour trip) and back at 11 AM, 1 PM and 2 PM. Allow two hours for the visit.


BALAMKÚ
Located in the southeastern part of the state of Campeche, this archaeological zone differs from the other ones by huge polychrome stucco bas-reliefs- unique in Mayan world – located on a frieze dating from A.D. 550 to 650. The study of this work with a huge iconographic richness proofed that the icons represent people and jaguars linked to the complex conceptual world of the old Mayas.
The city comprises three architectonic groups : The South, Central and North Groups, but only the first two are partially excavated.


The South Group (the smallest) is organized around four plazas. Its main structure is a pyramidal base with a temple. The three structures defining the North plaza of this group present the characteristics peculiar to the architectonic style of Rio Bec.

The Central group comprises two plazas, but only one was explored. You will find there the Structure I, made of three pyramidal bases.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$35.



CHICANNÁ
Located at the southeast of the state of Campeche, Chicanná is known as "The House of the Serpent Mouth" because of the huge mask located on the central facade of the Structure II. According to the archaeologists, the mask represents Itzammá, snake incarnation of the Creator God.
The site also presents other constructions, among them the Structure I, at the eastern side of the main plaza. On the facade, you can see remains of masks in profile. The Structure III, at the North, is made of a base with stairs in the center and rooms on the sides. The Structure IV, at the South, has also stairs and rooms.
The elegant and rich décor of the edifices gives one the impression that Chicanná was reserved to the local elite. Its location allowed it to be part of the trade road which crossed the peninsula from the Gulf of Mexico to the South Coast.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$46.




BECÁN
The Mayan city of Becán is located at the southeastern part of the state of Campeche, 302 km (188miles) from the city of Campeche. Its name means "ditch of water", in Maya. This is the characteristic of the site : a 1.9km (1.2mile) long ditch surrounds the main architectonic ensembles of the place.
The construction of the city started at the Classic time (from A.D. 100 to 250). It reached its zenith from A.D. 600 to1000, when Campeche was the regional capital. All the goods and services of many establishments were there.
There were seven gates to get into the city : one at the West, three at the North, two at the South and one at the East, which is the actual entrance of the site. In the area surrounded by the ditch, there are edifices with massive structure bordering plazas. On the East Place, the imposing Structure I has two lateral towers, with a lot of decorations.
The main plaza remains opened in two sectors, surrounded by the structures VIII and IX (The highest construction in the site (32m or 105feet) and the structure X, where you still can observe the stucco remains of a mask. The western plaza is defined by the Ball court.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$46.




SANTA ROSA XTAMPAK
It was a huge city with more than 10 ceremonial places. It is located within the limits of the town of Hopelchén. Its name means "In front of the wall" in Maya. The site preserves a 3 story- rectangular construction with 40 rooms, well trimmed stone walls and lateral temples with plazas adorned with columns and moldings. There is also an old barrack, a ball court, the South Plaza and a few steles.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$35.


HORMIGUERO
This is an archaeological zone located in southeastern Campeche, on a flat land with a few mounds towards south. There are three very well defined groups : the south, the central and the north groups.
In the south Group, there is the Structure II, the most important of the site according to its size and the complex designs sculpted on the main facade.
In the Central Group, there is the structure V, a one room edifice with a mask on its façade and the structure VI, flanked by lateral towers of Rio Bec style.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, free entrance.




XPUHIL
Xpuhil is named after an herbaceous plant typical of the place called "Cat’s tail". This site of the southeastern part of the state of Campeche boomed at the late Classical time (from A.D.500 to 800).
Xpuhil has 17 architectonic groups and residential platforms covering an area of 5 km2 (1236 acres). Look at the Structure I, or Edifice of the three Towers, the Structure II, whose facade comprises the bases of small rooms, the Structure III, with “benches” inside, the Structure IV with two story- rooms and the Structure V, also called Xpuhil 2 or Temple of the Crest, whose main facade has a upper ornament with vestiges of stylized masks.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$41.



DZIBILNOCAC
This Mayan name means "Painted Vault" or "Big painted Turtle". This archaeological zone is located at the east of Campeche. The first proofs of human occupation date from 500 to 50 BC. The city covers an area of about 1.32 km2 (326 acres) where we find mounds corresponding to pyramidal bases, platforms, vaulted edifices and rooms. The only construction explored is the Edifice A, who gets several rooms organized lengthways and three towers whose tops look like temples.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, free entrance.


HOCHOB
This archaeological zone is located at the north of the state, 35 km (22miles) from Hopelchén. Its name means "Place of the Corn stalks". The city is built on a mound, artificially flattened at the top, where we find a group of structures divided into three plazas. The main edifice is the East Palace, with 3 rooms. On the main facade, there are an animal shaped mask and a serpent mouth that gives the entrance the look of a monstrous mouth.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$35.

TABASQUEÑO
According to the archaeological data, the Mayan city of Tabasqueño reached its zenith from A.D. 750 to 900. The zone, discovered by the German explorer Teoberto Maler in 1985, is located at the east of Campeche, 39 km (24miles) of Hopelchén.
The explored part consists in a rectangular plaza with constructions on its four sides. The most important one is the Structure I, also known as the Temple-Palace, whose main facade lets admire an animal shaped design surrounding masks of Earth’s Monster, as well as cascades of masks of Chac, the Mayan God of rain.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, free entrance.

 

Un recuento con videos, fotos y música Maya de mi exploración de estos 3 mágicos sitios Mayas donde yo fui el único visitante, Jul 2007.

A recopilation with videos, pics and music of my visit of this 3 Mayan Sites in Campeche where I was the only visitor ! Jul 2007.

Hochob, Tabasqueño,Dzibilnocac


EL TIGRE
Located close to the Salsipuedes Lake and the Laguna Vieja, in the southern part of Río Candelaria, the archaelogical zone of El Tigre is 260 km (162miles) from Ciudad del Carmen. The place was part of the old Mayan “kingdom” of Acalán and was considered the most important market in Mayan world.
There is a ceremonial plaza with four great structures, two other plazas, 13 altars and 3 smooth steles. Around the ceremonial center, you can see dozen of mounds forming neighborhoods whose buildings are grouped around secondary plazas and patios.

Open 9 AM-5 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$35.


The Río Bec route, "Oak River"
The region called "Río Bec" is located in the center of the Mayan area, half way between the cities of Francisco Escarcega and Chetumal, distant of 270 km (168miles). The visit reserves nice surprises as you will be introduced to an amazing architectural decorative style. The Mayan sites that reached their zenith from A.D. 600 to 830 were long ignored by the explorers and archaeologists. French Maurice de Périgny was the first to visit Central Yucatán in 1907. The style called Río Bec, as well as the Chenes found further north (Hochob, Dzibilnocac), are characterized by temples whose door represents the mouth of Earth’s Monster. The pyramidal towers, crowned with false temples can be seen only in Río Bec architecture.
The ruins of Balamkú, Chicanná, Becán, Xpuhil, Hormiguero and Calakmul are part of the Río Bec Route (open daily 8 AM-5 PM, MXN$41 or MXN$46). The sites of Dzinbanché and Kohunlich located 80 km (50miles) from Chetumal in the state of Quintana Roo are also part of the Rio Bec route.

If you have limited time, pick the sites of Dzinbanché, Kohunlich, Becán, Chicanná, Calakmul and Balamkú. Don’t forget mosquito repellent in summer. A car is the best way to visit the Rio Bec route.

ADO Company has a bus Station in Xpuhil and services Chetumal twice a day.


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