Planning a trip to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico? Here's a list of the principal archaeological sites of the Northern Maya Lowlands and the Yucatan Peninsula that are open to visitors and shouldn't be missed!
1. Chichén Itzá
The most famous Maya site of Yucatan, of Mexico, and probably one of the most visited in the Americas, Chichén Itzá was an important city beginning in the late Classic period, and the dominant capital of Yucatan during the Terminal Classic (AD 1000-1100). Chichén Itzá shows cosmopolitan and innovative art, architectural style and religion, probably deriving from its strong political and economic connections with the Gulf Coast and Central Mexico as well as from its role in controlling a coastal trade network.
Mayapan was the capital of an important group of kingdoms in Postclassic Yucatan, called the "League of Mayapan". The architecture of Mayapan bears close a resemblance to many buildings of Chichen Itza, such as El Castillo, the Observatory.
Located on the northwestern portion of the Yucatan peninsula, Komchen is one of the larger Preclassic Maya site known so far in the Northern Lowlands. It was an important trade center for the commerce of salt.
Aké is an important site of the Classic period. Located near Merida, it has a series of causeways, columnade buildings, and high platforms. Aké was the setting of an important battle between the Maya and the Spaniards, during the Conquest.
Oxkintok is an important Maya site of the Puuc region of Yucatan. It is a typical example of the famous Puuc architectural style. Among the most important buildings at Oxkintok are: the so-called Labyrinth, the pyramid, various elite residential complexes Ah Canul group and the Ch’ich palace.
Uxmal was the capital of the Puuc region during the Terminal Classic period. Its magnificent architecture includes multistored buildings and pyramids all decorated with the typical stone-mosaics that characterize the Puuc style.
X'Cambó is a small site on the northern coast of Yucatan, involved in the production and distribution of salt. Its small ceremonial area includes a central plaza, around which are organized a series of buildings, among which: the Templo de la Cruz (Temple of the Cross), the Templo de los Sacrificios (Temple of Sacrifices) and the Pyramid of the Masks.
9. Other important sites of the Yucatan peninsula are:
- T'ho (Merida)
- Ek Balam
- Cozumel Island