What to do

Visiting Ek Balam

Ek Balam is a Mayan archaeological site in the Yucatec-Maya country located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. 35 miles from Chichen Itza, it was the seat of the Yucatec-Mayan kingdom. Only the centre of the ruins have been excavated, and although 12 square miles have been excavated, only 1 square mile can be viewed. About 45 structures of the site have been collected and logged into the archaeological layout. 

Ek Balam is composed of several temples and residential buildings and palaces. The El Torre, a large pyramid, is located in the centre of the city. This is a very well-preserved ruin if you want to get a taste of history in this beautiful peninsula, or jump into the cenote, or if you just want to explore an interesting sight off the beaten path.

What does Ek Balam mean?

Ek Balam is the Mayan word for “the Black Jaguar” or “the Bright star Jaguar”. Ek Balam is unlike any other ruin. It has a unique atmosphere of its own. When visiting, you can sense the sheer majesty of the ruins as it was the seat of the Mayan kingdom. Its temples gave a sense of the devotion the people had to their gods and their religion, the palaces that symbolized a political elite close to their leader. The pyramids demonstrate the resourcefulness that the Mayans practiced with their astonishing innovations, with such little technology they had. 

How old is Ek Balam?

Ek Balam was the seat of the Yucatec-Mayan country from the Middle Preclassic Era through to the Postclassic era, when the Mayan Empire fragmented into Mesoamerica. It has been inhabited for 1,000 years and experienced the height of its habitation from 770 to 840 CE. Because of its preservation, archeologists are able to extract a rich resource of understanding the Classical Mexican cities and the culture, from its pottery to its architecture.

The Defensive walls give a good insight into the socio-political construct of the city. These walls are the largest of the Yucatan Mayan sites, which seems to employ a sense of how significant this city is with its sense of protection and military prowess. 

The structures within the city walls show a very detailed image of Mayan life as there are signs of cosmological interests in the Oval Palace, a place where relics were buried. There is also a ballcourt which features the leisure activities of the Mayan people, and an acropolis believed to contain the tomb of the leader.

How high is Ek Baalam?

The El Torre is about 30 metres tall on all sides with steps to climb the pyramid. 

Can you climb Ek Balam?

Yes, you are able to climb the pyramid in Ek Balam, the El Torre. Please note that it is an extremely steep climb, and to wear the proper footwear to make this journey. The view from the top is extremely unique with an untouched natural atmosphere at all sides and an opportunity to view the unique and ornate carvings that survive on the pyramid to this day!

The entrance fee to enter Ek Balam is 80 pesos per person, and you are able to rent a bike or take a pedicab to the site if you do not prefer to walk. 

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