Dzibilchaltun Ruins are located near the colonial city of Merida, Yucatan. Dzibilchaltun was a large settlement and still occupied when the Spanish arrived during the 1500s. Archaeologists estimate there were as many as 200,000 inhabitants and 8,400 buildings during its history with artifacts dating back to the middle of the classic period (700 – 800 A.D.) Highlights are the large plaza, sacbe trails, the Temple of the Dolls, and the Open Chapel, an unusual amphitheater shaped structure.
Templo de las Siete Muñecas, the Temple of the Dolls, is an impressive building on a pyramidal base. There is a short tower on its roof. A monolithic stelae stands in front resembling a sentinel guarding its entrance. The doorways of the temple were built in exact solar alignment with the rising sun so the rays of light pass through perfectly during both the spring and autumn equinox. This light marked the beginning of the planting season (spring) and harvest season (autumn).
Since corn remained a major part of the Maya diet, these events had great significance to the Maya. Yum Kax, the Maya God of corn.
Cenote Xlakah is a beautiful freshwater pool located to the side of the main plaza. It was the city’s freshwater source for the city and perhaps the main reason the Maya chose this location to build this massive city. Water from Cenote Xlakah would have been perfect for residents and agriculture.
Under the surface, Cenote Xlakah reaches depths of 44 meters (144 feet). According to the plaque near the water’s edge, Xlakah means Old Town in Maya. The cenote was first explored between 1957-59 when thousands of pottery shards and urns were found along with wood, stone and bone artifacts. The earthenware dates to the Late Classic Periods of 600-1000 A.D.
The museum at Dzibilchaltun is full of interesting artifacts of both Mayan and Spanish origin. Carved stone tablets, stelae, are displayed alongside Maya hupiles, old textile machinery, maps, Spanish armor, swords and other weapons. The museum is located by the entrance to the ruins site and is definitely worth seeing before you enter the ruins.
Dzibilchaltun is only 9 miles from Merida. Merida taxi drivers would be happy to take you to this site. If public transportation is more your speed, combi public vans can be found on Calle 69 between 62 and 64 in San Juan Park, Merida that go directly to Dzibilchaltun.
If you’d rather drive, take the Merida/Progreso highway north for seven miles, watching the signs as you go. You will end up taking two right hand turns as you make your way to the ruins.