Saturday, 8 December 2018

Mexico: Uxmal

The Pyramid of the Magician

Uxmal (pronounced oosh-marl) is the site of a Mayan city which lies about 70 km south of Mérida, where we are staying. It is the first of several such sites we are going to visit on this holiday.

The first thing you see as you enter the site is the back of the astonishing Pyramid of the Magician. Below is what it looks like from the front.

A closer look at the entrance which lies at the top of the extremely steep steps (sadly you can't climb them) has been deliberately designed to resemble a mouth, with a nose and eyes above. In this reading the steps are a giant tongue ...

From here we entered a massive enclosure with ranges of buildings (palaces) along all four sides, but gaps in the corners for air circulation. Its construction dates from 900-1000 AD. The Spaniards named it The quadrangle of the nuns as they thought it resembled a monastery cloister.

The left hand range has a fine sculpture of a snake.

This is the view looking back to the small entrance (Mayan building techniques didn't allow arches or wide spans for entrances). In the background on the right is the Great Pyramid, which we will soon climb. On the left is the Palace of the Governor.

But first we see our first example of a Ball Court, a feature of all Mayan cities. Nobody really knows how the game was played, but it seems to have involved two teams of between 1 and 7 players who manoeuvred a heavy ball without using their hands with the aim of getting it through a hoop along the side of one wall. So far so good, but the distinctive Mayan twist was that the captain of the winning team was then sacrificed to the gods with a promise of going straight to heaven.

Now we climbed the steep steps of the 30m high Great Pyramid, This is the view back from the top.

Returning to ground level we headed round past the so-called Governor's House ...

... which had opposite an eerie statue of a double-headed Jaguar.

And at last I saw a few butterflies, notably Montezuma's Cattleheart ...

 ... and the Tailed Orange

Rating: Five stars

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