Ruta Puuc or Puuc Route home to several Mayan cities with a unique and beautiful architectural style
Ruta Puuc Description
Ruta Puuc or Puuc Route is home to several Mayan cities, with the same architectural designs.
The term Puuc is used to describe a unique and beautiful style of architecture and the area it is located in.
Architectural Elements of the Puuc Route
The landscape in the Yucatan Peninsula is completely flat, although part of it has small hills (very small hills, more like mounds) and they are called Puuc in the Maya language.
The Mayan temples with these characteristics are the ancient Mayan ruins of Uxmal - Sayil - Labna - Xlapak and Kabah, and they were built on top of these hills.
When visiting Yucatan, Ruta Puuc is a must if you are into archaeological sites, art and architecture. Other attractions that are on the same route besides the Mayan cities of Uxmal, Sayil, Labna, Xlapak and Kabah, and should not be overlooked, are:
The Caves of Loltun - The Caves of Calcehtok - The Ecomuseum of Cacao, and beautiful Haciendas Yaxcopoil, Ochil and Temozon). But there is more, don’t miss the impressive cenotes/sinkholes like San Antonio Mulix, Mayan villages and larger Mayan towns like Oxcutzcab (osh-coots-CAHB), Ticul (tee-COOL) and Tekax (teh-kash) that are along the way.
If you don’t have too much time to spend doing Ruta Puuc, no problem, a lot of this can be done in a day’s trip.
Of course if you’d like to spend more time here, and chill a little bit, you can spend the night in one of the clean, inexpensive hotels in the town of Ticul, (sorry, no luxury hotels here).
Then continue the next day exploring whatever you missed the day before.
The City Three Times Built
The Mayan word Uxmal (oosh - MAHL), derives from the word Oxmal (ox = three) which means Three Times Built or Occupied.
The ancient Mayan ruins of Uxmal are located 80 km (50 miles) south of Merida the capital city of Yucatan, on the road to the state of Campeche, and 358 km (222 miles) from Cancun. It is the largest Mayan City in Ruta Puuc.
Uxmal was built in an area made up of a series of very low hills, known as the Puuc Region, (The Pook Region) which in Maya means “Range of Hills.
Sayil means “the place of the leaf-cutter ants ”, it is one of the great Mayan cities built in Puuc architectural style.
Even though this Mayan city is not as well known or as large as Uxmal or Chichen Itza, it offers awesome ancient structures that you can explore at your own pace without the crowds that you might find at these two famous archaeological sites.
Savor the peace and tranquility that prevails here and enjoy the history of the place. The site is quite well preserved, maybe not worth a visit on its own, since it is a bit small, but if you are doing the Ruta Puuc, it’s a complement of the tour that you should not miss. It is a 30 minute drive from Uxmal.
Prepare to be here at least an hour to check out these magnificent temples.
You might feel like Indiana Jones exploring through the jungle, because that is exactly where you will be, there are paths that lead to the Mayan Pyramids, some are in good shape, some are not, you have to make the best of it.
But I can assure you, that you will get the feeling of discovery every time you find one, when you come to a clearing in the forest.
Sayil was a rather large city more than a thousand years ago, and there are quite a lot of Mayan ruins that have not been excavated yet.
The most impressive structure at this site is The Palace, which is actually the only structure that has been fully restored.
It has three levels with a total of 98 rooms which took several years to build.
It was home to the ruling family, although it was not only residential, but also the place where they took care of business.
It is an imposing building, that is covered with masks, carvings of the rain god Chac, columns and other stonework, it is and excellent example of Puuc style Mayan architecture.
El Mirador / Watchtower
Another impressive structure is El Mirador / Watchtower / Observatory, it’s a structure that is built on top a small unrestored mound. It originally had five rooms and a tall roof-comb.
The South Palace and the Ball Court are located two kilometers (1.5 mi) south of the Palace.
Just like Sayil, Labna (which means old or abandoned house) is much smaller than Chichen Itza and Uxmal, you won’t find as many people visiting.
You have it mostly to yourself so you can explore and wander around at your own pace and enjoy the peace and quiet, which allows you to picture in your mind what this city must have been when the Mayans lived here.
Labna's Famous Arch
This arch is considered the most beautiful building in this Mayan city and a remarkable example of Puuc style architecture.
The palace is a two story building, considered one of the longest in the Puuc region, it has many carvings which are still well preserved.
In the upper level you will finda a choltun (chohl-toon) or cistern that still holds water, these were necessary to collect rain water. On the lower level you will find masks of the Mayan rain god Chaac.
El Mirador / Watchtower
This building stands out above the city, it has a 13 foot roof-comb, which is believed to have had stuccos representing Mayan nobles.
Although Labna is small, it offers some beautiful Mayan Temples and Pyramids.
Labna a Few Temples
It is not a site that you would make a special trip for, but since you will already be in the neighborhood, why not give it a shot, it complements your tour of the Ruta Puuc or Puuc Route.
Sayil and Labna are open Monday - Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee -- $ 42 pesos