Sayil is a small archaeological site of Maya ruins, located in southwest Yucatan, Mexico.
History of Sayil
Built in the traditional Puuc style, Sayil was founded around 800AD and reached its zenith shortly afterwards, around the 9th century. Archaeological evidence suggests that its rulers gained their wealth and power through control of agricultural lands.
As with many Maya sites, the mysterious collapse of the Maya meant this site was abandoned in the 10th century, although some kind of reoccupation may well have happened later. It was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1840s, with the first archaeological excavations taking place here in the first half of the 20th century.
Quieter than the larger sites in the area such as Uxmal, Sayil offers a good place to see Maya structures such as its impressive palace (El Palacio), which boasts 3 stories and an 85m long façade with ornate friezes and Chaac (rain god) masks. The El Mirador temple is also worth seeing: it still possess a large roofcomb which would once have been painted bright red. Lastly, the South Group of ruins (Grupo Sur) remains still half buried in the jungle: the roots covering the walls remain wonderfully evocative of the age when these ruins were rediscovered.
Look out for the god of fertility at the end of the trail!
The site is pretty big so be prepared to do some walking. Compared to other sites in the area, there isn’t huge amounts to see at Sayil: much of the site is still buried under jungle vegetation – although arguably this adds to the atmosphere.
Many don’t consider it worth a trip on its own merits, but if you’re doing the Ruta Puuc or looking to combine a visit with one to Uxmal, it’s almost always very empty and pretty atmospheric.
Getting to Sayil
Sayil is on the Puuc Trail, just off Ruta 261. You can catch buses from Merida in this direction – Uxmal is a few kilometres up the main drag if you’re looking for a general direction. Labna is extremely close by.
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