After spending some time at the university with the scientists, we decided to do another touristy thing. We went to the ruins at Dzibilchaltun, where we spent the rest of the day in a beautiful setting that was not overrun with people, since archaeologists have only recently begun clearing the land and restoring the ruins. I was glad to see a place that wasn’t entirely crowded.
Dzibilchaltun is about ten miles from Merida. It’s a much smaller set of ruins than either Chichen Itza or Uxmal, and archaeologists are only just beginning to find out much about this former Mayan city. One thing they know is that this is the Mayan city that was occupied the longest, having existed for 3000 years before the Spanish invaded the region. Dzibilchatun’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico made a perfect port city, and many residents became wealthy through trade.
One of the most prominent buildings in Dzibilichaltun is the Temple of the Seven Dolls. This temple was discovered in the 1950s when archaeologists located it under the ruins of a larger pyramid. As was typical with Mayan construction, the larger pyramid had been built over the Temple of the Seven Dolls. The Temple was named by the archaeologists, who found seven small figurines inside the structure. Showing the Mayans’ knowledge of astronomy and the seasons, the doorways of the temple are built so that on the spring and fall equinoxes, the light of the rising sun shines through one temple door and out the opposite one.
A museum was also built on the site to hold some of the Mayan and Catholic artifacts found there. Those include the seven figurines found inside the temple, as well as a Mayan house. Unfortunately, some of the other structures which existed in Dzibilichultan during the Mayan times were taken apart by the Spanish and used to construct other buildings, such as churches. One of those, a Franciscan church, is in ruins on the site and is known as the Open Chapel. Dzibilichultan may be the only site where Mayan and Spanish ruins coexist.
Dzibilichultan also includes a number of memorial stones and stone sculptures. A path leads past some of these between the central plaza and the Temple of the Seven Dolls.
Another unique feature of Dzibilichultan is the Cenote Xlakah. When Dzibilichultan was a bustline Mayan city, the cenote was their water supply. Now it’s a great place for tourists and visitors to cool off on hot days, since swimming is allowed.
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