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Ek Balam

Yucatan, Mexico

Ek’ Balam, an impressive Maya ruin near the colonial city of Vallodolid in Mexico’s Yucatan, preserves an ancient city complete with two palaces, a huge pyramid (El Torre)or the Acropolis, and several temples—all of which are currently accessible to the public, including allowing visitors to climb the structures, at the time of this writing (September 2014).

Upon arrival at the archeological site, you will begin your exploration of the ancient city by passing through the Entrance Arch (Arco de Entrada), which spans the sacred road, or sacbe, that leads to the entrance of Ek’Balam—this imposing structure is believed to have been ceremonial in purpose and its grandeur still serves to impress.

Your exploration of the XI Century city continues with a steep climb up the stone façade of the Oval Palace—from the top of the structure you have a 360-degree view of the grounds, including a bird’s-eye perspective of the city including the massive pyramid of the Acropolis.

The highlight of a hike around Ek’ Balam is the opportunity to climb to the top of the Acropolis—106 steep, uneven, and narrow steps lead to the highest part of this palace/temple and its views fit for a king. It features ornate carvings, a glimpse at what is presumed to be the tomb of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok, and restored frescoes—including a close-up look at the jaguars mouth, Ek’ Balam translates as dark or black jaguar and motifs depicting the animal recur throughout the ancient city. .


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