"Place Where There Is Writing on the Stones"
Dzibilchaltun (dzee-beel-chal-TOON) which means “Place Where There is Writing on the Stones” is one of the smaller but no less striking Mayan archaeological sites.
It is located 15 km (9.3 miles) north of Merida, the capital city of Yucatan on the highway to the port of Progreso. The entrance is right after the tiny town of Dzibilchaltun (156 people).
I’d like to tell you a little bit about this Mayan City, which seems small compared to other archaeological sites, actually not all of its 8400 structures have been excavated, only a handful, but interesting pyramids are completely restored at the moment.
The information below might come in handy in case you decide to visit.
Dzibilchaltun Tiny Village
Most Visited Mayan Pyramids
The Mayan Pyramids that have been excavated are not as large as those of Chichen Itza or Uxmal, nevertheless they are well worth visiting.
There are still over 8,000 structures that are yet to be excavated within a 10 square mile area (25.9 square km).
Archaeologists believe that when Dzibilchaltun was at its peak, it had a population of 25,000 and as many as 8,400 buildings.
It was still inhabited by the Maya when the Spanish Conquest took place in the 1500's.
The most relevant and well known pyramid is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, it was given that name due to the fact that a set of seven small clay figurines were found inside the pyramid during its excavation in the 1950's.
Temple of the Seven Dolls
There is no other Mayan Temple known to have windows, and the orientation of the building gives archaeologists an indication that it was used for astronomical observations.
Only twice a year, during the Spring and Fall Equinox (March 21 and September 22) the rising This has become an international event, many people from all over the world gather here to watch this phenomenon at sunrise, and continue to Chichen Itza in the late morning to watch the feathered serpent descend from the Pyramid of Kukulcan in an extraordinary display of shadow and light.
Dzibilchaltun Main Square
Another main attraction in this Mayan city is a large plaza which is the largest open area of the site, surrounded by a few low pyramids and an amphitheater shaped structure called the Open Chapel.
16th Century Chapel
The amphitheater shaped structure called The Open Chapel, was originally a 16th century Spanish Colonial Church built at this archaeological site after the conquest.
Drawing of Original Chapel
Memories of Dzibilchaltun
During my recent visit to Dzibilchaltun (zee-be-chal-TOON) I was trying to reacquaint myself with the places I used to visit when I was a young kid and a teenager, places I hadn’t visited for a long time, and I have found that they are different but in a much better way.
I remember my friends and I would go to this small Mayan City to swim in the Cenote / Sinkhole.
Back in the day they didn’t charge us anything to go in and have a good time in this swimhole, and since it was and still is about 15 minutes away from our home, we didn’t have any trouble getting a ride there and back.
This time I did not go swimming, I wanted to see what I had missed as a kid, when my only interest was taking a dip in the cenote.
During the time I spent in Dzibilchaltun, I wandered around enjoying the peaceful surroundings, I climbed the structures and pyramids and I sat in quiet contemplation picturing in my mind what life must have been like for the Maya in this city hundreds of years ago.
The Cenote Xlakah (which means”old village or town”) / Xlakah Sinkhole or Well, is another feature which makes these ruins different from the others, after walking a long distance under the hot sun visiting and climbing the different structures and pyramids, the clear waters of this cenote are an invitation for a swim.
It was and stll is used as a swimming hole by the locals and tourists. One end of the cenote is quite shallow while the other is 140 feet deep and continues on into a tunnel.
The artifacts and items found in the cenote suggest that this well was used by the Maya as a religious ceremonial center, as well as a source of clean drinking water, which might be the reason they built their city in this location.
Do not leave without visiting the small but awesome museum (Museo del Pueblo Maya) where you will be able to admire the seven clay figurines that were found in the Temple of the Seven Dolls. It is located at the entrance to the site.
This archaeological site is open from 8 am to 4 pm every day except Monday. Entrance fee for Non-Mexican citizens, $118.00 pesos ($ 10.00 USD), Mexican Citizens $ 91.00 ($ 7.00 USD) Children $ 6.00 ($ .50 USD).
Entry fees include access to the museum.
Among the services offered are a restaurant, information booth, gift shop, handicapped facilities, restrooms and parking. Tour guides are available for your convenience.
How to get there:
If you're driving, take the Mérida - Progreso highway north. A little after the sign that indicates 11 km. (7 miles) you will see the sign to turn right. Drive for about 3 more kilometers. (2 mi) You will see signs with directions to the Mayan site after you pass the tiny village of Dzibilchaltun.
If you do not have a car, you can take a combi also called a colectivo (shared taxi) on Calle 69 between 62 and 64 in San Juan Park where they go directly to Dzibilchaltún.