Ek Balam

Ek Balam, one of the latest archaeological sites to be discovered in the Yucatan peninsula, is maybe one of the most important Maya ruins ever found. The site is expected to be as large as Chichen Itza once the excavation is finished.

The site is composed by many temples, two huge palaces and a large pyramid in the center of the city.

One of the main buildings, and one largest ever discovered, is the Acropolis measuring 480 feet long, 180 feet wide and 96 feet tall. This is believed to be the tomb of the ruler of the city around 800AD named Ukil-Kan-Lek-Tok. The Acropolis has a large entrance built as a monster mouth, supposed to represent the portal to the Other World.

Other interesting facts are that the city was surrounded by defense walls as Tulum. From the top of the pyramid you can see the ruins of Coba located 30 miles away. There are many "sac-be" (old Mayan road) connecting Ek Balam to Chichen Itza, Coba and the other archaeological sites around. Most of the sculptures and decoration of the site were not affected by time and are well preserved.

Other buildings of interest are the Oval palace and the Ball Court.

Ek Balam lies north of the colonial city of Valladolid, half way between Cancun and Merida. To get there take the highway Cancun – Merida and exit in Valladolid, then head north towards the city of Tizimin. Either from Cancun or Merida, it takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there.

Ek Balam means black jaguar in Maya. It was inhabited as early as 100 BC. The peak of its development is dated around 800 AC. Some historians believe that its economical strength was based in the production of honey, corn, wax and cotton. The city lost much of its influence around 1000 AC, like many others in the area, supposedly due to several conflicts and political fights. Nevertheless it remained inhabited almost until the arrival of the Spanish.

Ek Balam is open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. You can enjoy the colonial city of Valladolid in the same trip.