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

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Aerial view of El Palomar, a long off-limits plaza in the ancient city of Uxmal. Photo: INAH

The ancient city of Uxmal is known as the capital of the Puuc region and is the second-most-visited archaeological site in Yucatán — second only to Chichén Itzá

Ready to explore El Palomar for yourself? Join us Dec. 18 for a tour of Uxmal and other fascinating attractions! Contact yesicabenitez@roofcatmedia.com

Like several other sites, most notably Chichén Viejo, Uxmal has recently had considerable resources devoted to it, including much-needed basic maintenance and the restoration and opening to the public of entirely new areas.

Among the new attractions at Uxmal is the archaeological site’s video mapping show inaugurated in 2021. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The largest and most striking section of Uxmal, recently opened to the public, is El Palomar.

El Palomar’s name refers to pigeons (palomas) that have long made nests in the niches of its main temple’s crestwork. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

It used to be that only the crest of El Palomar could be seen from the top of Uxmal’s Grand Pyramid. But now, the entire quadrangle of El Palomar is open to visitors. 

The path to El Palomar has been made easy to walk and can be accessed by making a right-hand turn after Uxmal’s main ballcourt. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Along the path to El Palomar, visitors who have not been to Uxmal for a while will notice several structures they have never seen before. 

One of the most striking recently restored structures is a two-level circular platform with a small structure at its top. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

From inside the plaza, the splendor of El Palomar can be appreciated in all of its glory.

El Palomar’s Grand Temple and its surrounding structures feature all the hallmarks of a great Puuc-style plaza, including cylindrical adornments, and mosaics, as well as one of the largest decorative crests in the Maya world. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Flanking the main temple are several structures, some of which were likely elite residential complexes, while others likely served as religious and administrative buildings.

An exquisitely restored multi-room complex runs perpendicular to El Palomar’s main temple. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Surrounding the quadrangle are several other structures, some of which have been restored up to a point, and others still awaiting their time to shine.

A partially restored Puuc-style structure features a Maya or Corbel arch, just outside Palomar’s plaza. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

After taking in the beauty of the plaza itself, visitors are allowed to climb El Palomar’s main temple for a closer look at its impressive architecture.

The staircase up to El Palomar’s main temple is fairly steep, with short steps, so be careful when climbing. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

From atop El Palomar, visitors are treated to a wonderful view of La Gran Pirmaide, Uxmal’s tallest structure. It is temporarily off-limits to folks wishing to climb its summit.

Uxmal’s Great Pyramid is the largest structure in all of Uxmal, despite being much less well-known than the site’s Pyramid of the Magician. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

But the improvements to Uxmal do not stop at El Palomar, as several structures have received a good deal of TLC and now look more impressive than ever.

A newly restored staircase makes it much easier to climb Uxmal’s Governor’s Palace. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The restoration of several structures atop the platform which houses the Governor’s Palace, allows some truly magnificent views.

The southern facade of Uxmal’s Nunery was photographed through the walls of Uxmal’s Temple of the Turtles. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine. 

But it is not just the exteriors of the structure that have been restored. The interiors of many structures have also received a good amount of care. 

The interior of a Puuc-style structure between the ballcourt and the elevated platform the Governor’s Palace sits upon. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The clearing of weeds on the site has also made visible other unrestored structures one would have never known were there.

The remains of what is likely a secondary ballcourt in Uxmal along the path to El Palomar. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

For more information on Uxmal, check out our main overview of the site here

If you go

Driving to Uxmal is fairly straightforward as the highway is excellent. But if you rather take a tour there are plenty of options to be found at tour agencies in downtown Mérida. 

Map showing the location of Uxmal, to the south of Yucatán’s state capital, Mérida. Map: Google Maps.

Uxmal is of course just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Puuc region, with other highlights including the ancient cities of Kabah, Labna, and Sayil, as well as other sites off the beaten path.

Sayil’s three-level Great Palace. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Ready to explore El Palomar for yourself? Join us Dec. 18 for a tour of Uxmal and other fascinating attractions! Contact yesicabenitez@roofcatmedia.com

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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