Ek Balam is a Yucatec Maya name that translates to "the black jaguar" or "bright star jaguar." Located near the colonial city of Valladolid in Yucatan, Mexico, Ek Balam's most important cultural period was during the Late Classic Period 700 - 1000 A.D It wasn't until the late 1980's when the site was mapped, and research continued into the 1990's. This is a mesmerizing ruins site if you are looking for something a bit off the beaten path.
The enormous dimensions of the buildings and the two walls surrounding the central portion of the Mayan city are what defines this Mayan ruin. The most important structures are found within the walled enclosure that is less than one square kilometer. Buildings are distributed within two large, connected plazas referred to as the Central and South Plazas. The walls have five entrances and five sak be´oob (roads) which lead in the direction of the four cardinal points with the Southern wall having two entrances and two sak be´oob.
We called Structure 17 the twins. It’s located to the West of the South Plaza. This building represents the best conserved architectural characteristics at the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam. The large foundation that is 40 meters in length, 17 meters wide and 6 meters high holds two buildings.
Structure 10 is a larger Mayan Structure, measuring 43 meters in length, 30 meters wide and 5 meters high. It is often associated with the “miniature temples” located in the east coast of Quintana Roo. Although the base corresponds to the Late Classic (700 – 1000 A.D.), the upper structures were not built until the Post Classic period.
The decoration of Ek Balam’s building facades were not carved stone, like those found in Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Ek balam used stucco and limestone mortar that was modeled into distinct forms and then painted. The only decorative stone elements are the small hoops found in the corner of the buildings.
The best time to visit Ek Balam is during a trip to the ruins of Chichen Itza, or the colonial city of Valladolid in the interior of Yucatan. Ek Balam archaeological zone is roughly a 2 hour drive from the Riviera Maya and 40 kilometers north of Valladolid on the road to Rio Lagartos.
From Tulum it is easiest to take the Coba road west, following signs to Chemax and Valladolid.