Continuing south past Kabah and Sayil, and ever deeper into the jungle, await the ruins of Labna and Xlapak. These two archaeological sites are separated by only four kilometers, and there is good reason to believe they functioned together to produce agricultural goods such as squash and corn, as well as honey.
The two sites share many architectural features and even have similar meaning names. In Mayan, Labna means old house, while Xlapak is most often translated as old walls. It is unknown what the exact nature of the relationship between Labna and Xlapak was, but given their location, it is likely that both served as vassal kingdoms to the Puuc lords in Uxmal or Kabah.
It has also been speculated that aside from producing food, these two cities served as forward-operating military bases for Uxmal. They were likely responsible for gathering information and served as the first line of defense against threats emerging from the Chenes kingdoms to the south.
Labna, the larger of the two cities, possesses several impressive buildings such as its two-story palace with over 67 rooms and a pyramid adorned with a crested roof (not unlike the one found in Sayil).
However, the structure which most captivates the imagination is Labna’s arch. Like several other wonders in the Maya world, the arch was illustrated by Frederick Catherwood in the XIX century. Fortunately for us, it still stands looking basically the same as it did back then, with a little help from INAH archaeologists of course.
Structures in Xlapak are modest in size compared to those of its larger neighbors, but they give us valuable insights into what life must have been like in smaller urban centers.
As of mid-February 2021, Labna and Xlapak remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check back for updates.
As with all archaeological sites in Mexico, it is prohibited to bring in food or drink — other than water. When inside the site, it is obligatory to wear a face mask and be mindful of social distancing. The entrance fee to both sites is 55 pesos Monday through Saturday. And on Sunday admittance is free for Mexican nationals and foreign residents of Yucatán (with ID).