Mayan Architecture in Yucatan
Architectural Elements of the Puuc Route
Discover the magic details of the Mayan Culture
The Puuc Route is composed by the archaeological sites of Labná, Sayil, Kabah, Xlapak, Oxkintoc, Chacmultún, Loltún and the main one being Uxmal. It is located about 90 miles south of Merida in Yucatan, Mexico. All of these Mayan ruins are on the list of World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO and share a common architectural style known as Puuc.
The architecture, besides being an important representation of Mayan art is a reflection of their view of the world and also has a functional character, aligned to the daily life of the ancient inhabitants.
Some of the main features of the Puuc architectural style are:
- A marked preference for the geometric architecture.
- Big pierced cresting decorated with stucco.
- The distinctive Mayan arch with highly polished stone.
- Numerous masks of the rain god Chac.
- The use of grecas as decorative elements.
- Small and false columns embedded in the facades.
- Stylized Mayan huts.
Chac, also called Chaak, is a deity associated with water and rain, people used to look for his aid in obtaining good harvests. His cult was increased especially in areas with water shortages, like the Mayan cities of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
The image of the god Chac, used in various Mayan cities of the Puuc Route, was characterized by its big eyes, a mouth provided with large fangs and above all a prominent curved horn-shaped nose. The decoration of the masks consist of several small pieces of stone, previously cut and then assembled in tiles, which produces a superb decorative effect.
Uxmal, which means “three times built“, is one of the archaeological sites where you can best appreciate the Puuc architectural style. It has one of the most impressive Mayan buildings in Yucatan: the main pyramid called “House of the Magician” which is 35 meters high and is considered the only oval Mayan pyramid.
Surrounded by legends, myths and stories, the great Mayan city of Uxmal is located next to a series of hills or “Puuc”, hence the name of the architectural style of the route.
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