Take A Road Trip to Campeche To See This Influential Mayan City
The word Edzná comes from “House of the Itzás”, which has led Archaeologists to believe that this Mayan city was influenced by the family Itzá long before they founded Chichen Itzá. It has also been documented that the layout of Edzná mimicked that of Teotihuacán near Mexico City. This Mayan site is as intriguing as it sounds and is a great trip through the Yucatan Peninsula. Adventure awaits at Edzná.
The history of the Edzná ruins is fascinating, the archaeological site a marvel. When we decided to make the trip to the Edzná ruins, admittedly we were kicking ourselves for not coming sooner. The list of interesting facts about Edzna starts with the following: there were influences from the Itzá Family, the size of the settlement at 25 km², the population at one point reached 25,000 people, half the size of Coba. Our visit to Edzná took us deeper into Mayan history and raised yet more questions about this incredibly intelligent community. When we read that Edzná mimicked aspects of Teotihuacán, the icing was on the cake. Edzná is a must-see ruin that will further your appreciation for the Maya and increase your desire to learn more.
Fast Facts About Ednza Ruins
- Could have been inhabited as early as 600 BC
- In the late classic period, Edzná was part of the Calakmul political system , a settlement to the southeast of Edzná
- It took until 200 AD before Edzná developed into a major city.
- The city is 25 km² with up to 25,000 inhabitants
- Edzná was an influential city from 400 y 1000 AD
- Edzná was finally abandoned in 1450, a unexplained abandonment that is still a mystery to this day
- The city has elaborate underground systems to capture and retain rain water as the location lacked a local water source.
- Edzná was discovered in 1907. The first organized excavations started in 1958 with additional excavations continuing in 1986.
- An Evening Light Show is open to the public year round and is worth seeing. In the winter months the show is at 7 pm and in the summer months at 8 pm. Transportation and tours can be found in the City of Campeche.
Noteworthy Structures Within the Edzná Ruins
Gran Acropolis – The Sun Point The Grand Acropolis is the central platform that supports 5 structures. It is located in the eastern section of the site, a significant cardinal point for the Maya. The Gran Acropolis faces the horizon and looks upon the Palace located directly in front.
The main castillo named Cinco Pisos (5 levels) is what defines the Gran Acropolis. This unique castillo has five levels and reaches 40 meters. The structure provides a wide overview of the surroundings from the top, which was thought to be used by spiritual and religious leaders. Each stair had intricate glyph carvings with remnants of the stucco details still seen today.
Small Acropolis Beside the Gran Acropolis is the Small Acropolis, a 8 m/24ft high base and three buildings located on the top. These structures have a view of the city, and overlook the Temple of the Masks.
Temple of the Masks The Temple of the Masks was uncovered in 1988, much later in the excavation period. This building has two small but distinct masks on the base of the temple, one located to the east and one located to the west. . One mask represents and honors the Sunrise God and the other the Sunset God. The masks are made of stucco not plaster, a delicate material that makes the preservation of these masks truly a miracle. Remnants of the red and blue paint used to decorate the masks are intact, artisanal features that would have covered these masks during the occupation of the city.
The Palace – It is hard to miss this structure that faces the Gran Acropolis. This residential building runs north to south for 135 meters/ 442 feet. Take note of the four large rooms at the top of the staircase.
What We Love About the Edzná Ruins
We always love a road trip and Edzná provides a great road from both the Riviera Maya and Costa Maya. The building Cinco Pesos on the Gran Acropolis is something to be remembered. To this day, the photo we took at our visit sits on my desk. I just love this ruin site and all the wonders it holds. Side note: At the entrance to the ruins there is a vending machine, yup, a true vending machine with cold drinks and snacks. Now that is a first for us! It was the only ‘store’ near the ruin site.
How to Get To the Edzná Ruins
The fastest way to get to the Edzná ruins from Playa del Carmen is using the new toll road that links to the Cancun-Merida toll road. Once you hit Merida head south on Hwy 180. All highways are in great shape, are multi-lane roads and make this trip less than 7 hours from the Riviera Maya coast. Once you hit the City of Campeche you have two ways to get to the ruins. Either continue on Hwy 180 and follow the signs or you can take Hwy 261 to the south of the City of Campeche. If you are already exploring the Ruta de Puuc in the Yucatan via Hwy 261, you will come across Edzná . The 261 is a very slow highway which will take about 7 hours from Merida to Campeche. This is a great route, but slower than some may want and turns your adventure into a few days, not a quick road trip.
If you are staying in the City of Campeche, there is public transportation that will take you close to the ruins entrance, about 500 meters from the ruins entrance.
If staying in the Costa Maya, Take Hwy 307 to the south, travel west on Hwy 186 then up Hwy 180 to Campeche City. We have not driven this route but suspect that again this is 6 to 7 hours.