Ek Balam: the Old Kingdom of Tolol, an unic archaeological site
Ek Balam is a Mayan archaeological site in Yucatan, Mexico. In Yucatecan Maya, ek’ Balaam means “black jaguar.” The small central area was protected by three walls. It was a rich Mayan capital named Talol, founded by Ek Balam (dark jaguar) or Coch CalBalam. It dominated a densely populated region. In the early 11th century, a foreign invasion, possibly by the Itza, conquered the power centers of Ek Balam and Yaxuna Most of the buildings are from the Late Classic Period. The entrance to this site, protected by two walls, begins with a magnificent Mayan arch, followed by the ceremonial center, the oval palace and a large Mayan ball court.
Ek Balam is spread over 15 square kilometers (about 5.8 square miles), but its core is located within a walled area, in which there are more than 40 buildings, among them the South and North Plazas. In the South Square lies Structure 10, which has large spaces for ceremonies. The architecture of this building includes corniced panels and is topped with a temple dating to the Postclassic. West of the square you’ll find Structure 17, known as The Twins because of the identical temples at its top. Structure 16, also known as the Oval Palace, is a palatial building for the elite of the city, as it has more than ten rooms. It also has a temple that was used in rituals. The North Plaza is the oldest and largest in Ek Balam; its highlight is definitely the Acropolis, an impressive building with several construction stages, passageways and vaulted spaces, distributed along six levels. The fourth houses of the most outstanding works of Mayan architecture: the White House of Reading, built by Ukin Kan Le’k Tok’. Its decoration showcases a series of winged figures flanking a facade, in which there’s a representation of an impressive Land Monster; in Maya iconography, this element refers to the gateway into the underworld. This stunning facade and the offerings located inside the building have been a challenge for the restoration and conservation of stucco and murals.
Admission fee to the archaeological site: $35 pesos. (Note: CULTUR, the state agency in charge of cultural sites and events, charges an additional fee: 69 pesos to Mexicans and 95 pesos to foreign visitors)
How to get there
Ek Balam is located in the central eastern part of Yucatan; it’s easy to reach, since its access is clearly marked with signs. It?s located 190 kilometers from the city of Merida. Take Highway 180 and continue on the toll road to Cancun. At the exit for the city of Valladolid, take the road to Tizimin, and about 30 kilometers in you’ll see a detour for Ek Balam.
Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Suggestions and Information
We recommend visiting in the morning for a more detailed tour, which will allow you to appreciate the workmanship in the stuccos and buildings; the Chichen Itza archaeological site, in Piste, Yucatan, is an excellent choice to visit afterwards.
This archaeological site has internal and external signage; the government of Yucatan, through CULTUR, is in charge of health services and the rest area at the site. It should be noted that in Ek Balam there are two ticket booths, one for INAH and one for CULTUR, and there are restrooms.
Chichen Itza, the best preserved and most impressive archaeological site of the ancient Mayan civilization, is located not far from Ek Balam. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1988, and it stands proud to have been listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Administrador del Centro INAH Yucatán Lic. Felipe de Jesús Flores Laguna Correo electrónico: [email protected] Teléfono: 01(988) 944 - 0033.