These Maya Temples Are About to Open for Free in Izamal

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Izamatul, the second largest pyramid in Izamal, is among those that will be accessible to visitors beginning Thursday, Dec. 7. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

To boost tourism and promote its culture, the city of Izamal will officially open previously off-limits Maya temples to the public beginning Thursday.

All signs indicate that access to these impressive structures will be free of charge.

The largest and most famous Maya structure in Izamal is the pyramid known as Kinich Kak Mo — which has been open to the public for decades. 

Sprawling over two acres or 8,000 square meters, the Kinich Kak Mo is the largest pyramid in the state of Yucatán and one of the largest in all of Mesoamerica. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The archaeological complexes that will open their gates include the temples of Itzamatul, Habuc, Tu’ul, and Chaltún Ha — all of which are well within city limits.

Though the pyramid of Itzamatul and a handful of others have sporadically opened from time to time, now visitors will be able to add it to their archaeological itinerary of Izamal. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

According to a recently published study, the municipality of Izamal is home to just over 170 Maya structures. They range in scale from the remains of foundations to full-blown pyramids. 

Another of the ancient structures, which will now be officially open, is known as Chaltún Ha and can be found in the southwest of town. 

The Chaltún Ha archaeological complex is often attributed to have been built in honor of the goddess Ixchel, though evidence for this theory is lacking. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Earlier: Until Recently, El Palomar Was Off-Limits, But Now Uxmal’s Latest Attraction Will Leave You Breathless

There are, however, several other impressive structures in Izamal that are visible only from rooftops or with drones because they sit in the backyards of private homes or government buildings. 

The Kabul Pyramid lay within a property belonging to city hall and is unlikely to open to visitors any time soon. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Izamal is also home to rich colonial-era architecture, including San Antonio de Padua. This open-air atrium is second in size only to Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

An aerial view of San Antonio de Padua in the heart of Izamal, Yucatán. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine.

The move to open these archaeological remains in Izamal comes on the heels of similar efforts in Uxmal, Chichén Viejo, and Kabah, under the auspices of the federal government’s PROMESA program in conjunction with INAH. 

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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