Xlapak – Yucatan – Mexico



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Xlapak – Yucatan


This site is situated 38 km south-east of Uxmal on the old ‘via ruinas’ Campeche road; after Kabah, where it meets the Puuc route state road, turn left. The Maya word Xlapak means ‘old walls’.

Site description

Xlapak is distinguished by the symmetry and exquisite decoration of the facades of the ancient residences. Although only three of the buildings have been restored, a visit to this site offers the chance to enjoy the classic architecture in a natural setting with beautifully tended vegetation in a small valley at the heart of the Yucatec mountains. The main groups are associated with caves and chultunes, and it is more than likely that this aspect impacted to a certain degree on the pattern of the ancient settlement. The construction and decorative characteristics of the residences suggest that the site experienced its peak between AD 600 and 1000.

The principal construction is the small palace, as the caretakers call it. In the 1960s the archaeologist Cesar Saenz, from the INAH, excavated and restored the building. It is a single-storey structure with an ornate frieze decorated with stacks of masks of Chac, the rain and water god, and stepped frets. The main buildings of another two architectural groups have also been consolidated, although further excavation and restoration are required to shed more light on their characteristics.

The building in group 2 is distinguished by a frieze with colonnettes and a row of dentilated stones known as chimez (‘centipede’ in Maya), typical of the Classic Puuc style.

Josep Ligorred i Perramon

From: ‘The Maya: an architectural and landscape guide’, produced jointly by the Junta de Andulacia and the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, 2010, pp 378-379.



1. Small Palace; 2. Group 2; 3. Group 3.

How to get there:

Not easy if you don’t have your own transport. There are no buses or colectivos that run along this road. Although the three sites (Labna, Xlapak and Sayil) are all within a 15km stretch of the road unless you hire a taxi from Santa Elena (expensive) you have to depend upon your wits, imagination and good luck.


20d 10′ 26″ N

89d 36′ 22″ W



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