Ek Balam (black jaguar) is a little visited ruin north of Valladolid. It’s a beautiful site with rare carvings of full figures and well-preserved wall paintings. Construction at Ek Balam began during the late Pre-Classic Period (100 BC – AD 300) and continued well into the Late Classic period (AD 700 – 900).
There are a number of splendid complexes here; its central plaza has three massive ceremonial structures with small temples, altars and living quarters while the chief pyramid, El Torre (the tower), is 100 feet high and 527 feet long making it one of the largest found in the northeastern Yucatán. Inside the main temple are wall paintings of Maya rulers performing rituals. The original paint remains, as does the painted hieroglyphics. As recently as 1987, a network of sacbé (white limestone roads) have been uncovered suggesting the site was an agricultural center -- the area still produces corn, vegetables, honey and cotton. Its setting deep in the forest only adds to the general mystique of this delightful site.
Open daily 8 AM – 5 PM. Admission: $2, free on Sundays and holidays. Located 3 hours from Cancun, (2 hours west on Highway 180, one hour north on Highway 295.)
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