Mayan Archaeology > Yucatan > Yucatan

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Where the Cocomes led the Mayapan league

The walled city of Mayapán was considered as the great Mayan capital, according to Indian and Spanish chronicles. Its name means “The Banner of the Mayan”.

During its peak in the Postclassic period, between 120 and 1450 A.D., there were 12,000 inhabitants, according to archaeological estimates.

Mayapán was the seat of the Mayapán League, a confederation that united the chiefs of Uxmal and Chichén Itzá in the peak of Mayan civilization. Disputes over control of the confederation ended with the defeat of the Itzáes who ruled Chichén, and their escape to the Petén, where they founded the city of Tayasal. From that moment on (end of the 13th Century) dominance over the league fell into the hands of the Cocomes of Mayapán, although they had great opposition from the inhabitants of other Mayan kingdoms in the peninsula.

Mayapán occupies an area of over four square kilometers, containing approximately 4,000 structures. It consists of a central area where the main civic, administrative and religious buildings, as well as the ruling classes’ residences, can be found. These rooms are supported by columns, pillars, temples and worshipping chambers. Structures are built on platforms with wide entrances divided by columns and an altar at the rear. The circular buildings, known as observatories, are an interesting feature.

The city of Mayapán was built in the likeness of Chichén Itzá. Structure Q162 or Castle of Kukulcán, is a smaller scale copy of the Castle of Chichén Itzá. It has nine staggered bodies which, together, reach a height of 15 meters. The Temple of the Painted Niches stands out for its mural painting, where the façade with five painted temples on five niches that symbolize the entrances to the temples can be seen. The Temple of the Frescos also has mural paintings on the north and south walls of its central building.

The Observatory or the Snail, which was probably for ceremonial use, is a circular building divided by a wall.

With the fall of Chichén Itzá, Mayapán developed its own style, oriented toward the reworking of ancient forms.

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How to arrive

From Mérida, take Federal Highway 180 Mérida-Valladolid towards Ticopo, and from there head south on the highway leading to the towns of Tecoh and Techalquillo (21 km), the turn to Mayapán is nearly 2 km ahead.


Map and address

It is 43 kilometers southeast of the city of Mérida.