Dzibilchaltun in Yucatan, Mexico is one of the earliest of the series of Maya settlements along the Puuc Route – a trail of the Maya sites in the Puuc region in Yucatan. It also remains the city state in longest continuous use in the Mayan world: Dzibilchaltun was used as an administrative and ceremonial capital from roughly 1500BC until the 16th century Spanish conquest.
Dzibilchaltun – which is translated as “the site of stone writing” – is not as big as its counterpart, Uxmal, nor has it been excavated and renovated quite as extensively, but it does house several interesting buildings nonetheless. In fact, in its heyday, Dzibilchaltun may have been vast and have even rivalled Uxmal in terms of its size, although comparatively little is left now.
One of the main sites at Dzibilchaltun is the Temple of the Seven Dolls (Templo de las Siete Muñecas). This holy building is also known as the Temple of the Sun, as it is perfectly located for viewing the Spring and Autumn equinox: the temple doors glow and eventually appear to light up as the sun rises behind them – this was almost certainly purposefully achieved by design and demonstrates the advanced nature of the Maya understanding of astronomy.
One great aspect which Dzibilchaltun has and which other Maya sites do not is its natural pool or cenote. Excavations of this pool have uncovered over 30,000 objects: today it is most well-known for being a popular swimming venue and good way to cool off after exploring the ruins. There is also a small museum, Museo del Pueblo Maya on site, which contains pre-Hispanic and early colonial artefacts.
Before You Go
Backpacks are not allowed on site. Dzibilchaltun can be reached from Merida by colectivo or taxi.