One of the nice things about visiting Yaxchilan is that you don't hear the sound of hawkers trying to sell you tourist novelties, the sound of other tourists or their guides. All you will hear is the sound of the jungle. And that means Howler Monkeys.
There are many spider monkeys too, but the almost deafening sound echoing through the area are the black howler monkeys' calls. They are quite cute if you have the patience to spot them and the luck to get close. And likewise impressive to see how such small monkeys can make such loud sounds.
Keep your eyes open to motion in the trees. Best viewing is from the small trails leading to the ruins higher on the hills (example ruins #39, 40, 41)
I booked a tour at El Panchan (Palenque)
left at 6.00 arrived after an breakfast at 10.35 at Yaxchilan ruins took 45 minutes with a boat from Frontera Corozal.
Entrance 46 pesos video 35 pesos
open 8.00 - 16.30.
I put my pictures at my travelogues
This construction was outside either the main axis or that of the acropolis, and so must have been a separate epoch in the building of Yaxchilan. Nevertheless, these ruins are themselves of considerable interest to the archeologicallly minded adventurer. I confess that it's possible though I may have become misoriented somehow, as an alternate explanation would be that these structures represent the top of the acropolis axis. Given my current information though, it seems unlikely. VT members who visit here and can serve to correct my errors are surely invited to contact me about these outlying constructions.
There are beyond even the main temple, a secondary village of sorts that may have been built later than the main city of Yaxchilan. I've been trying to place these ruins for quite some time now, and hopefully improve the tips at a later date, but in any case, these outlying ruins are on a hike along a narrow trail perhaps a quarter mile away, far enough that my wife decided not to go. She was worried about missing the launch and our bus from Bethel to Flores. I lit fire to my heals and quickly surveyed this cluster of buildings grouped with various terraces and levels.
As a result of the following a path to some howler monkeys, we arrived at Structure 33, which is at the top of the acropolis, from the backside. This turned out to be a photographic advantage as the structure at the top is one of the most photogenic in all Yaxchilan, if not of any Mayan city. The intricate latice like stone construction of the top is quite unusual.
"Again, I refer to the insight offered by Carolyn Tate regarding the axis on which Structure 33, the temple of Yaxchilan, was built:
Bisecting this major axis (that of the Main Plaza) is a strong axis in the form of the stairway to Structure 33, the temple itself, and the group of monuments in the center of the Main Plaza. All these face northeast...This is not accidental, nor is it common at other Maya cities...The buildings and stelae which face summer solstice, on the other hand, all document Period Endings, accessions, captures, and sacrifices of living kings. Almost every building with associated sculptural or hieroglyphic monuments faces one of these two directions, and the few that do not seem to have been oriented in response to other specific concerns."
Carolyn E. Tate, Yaxchilan: The Design of a Maya Ceremonial City, p. 111
From a book read, I found this insightful quote based on the map of Yaxchilan provided at the site, and regarding the purposeful layout of the city: "Looking at the map of Yaxchilan, one sees that the entire Main Plaza is oriented from northwest to southeast. Several small buildings sit perpendicular to this axis, and their apertures face southeast, the same direction as the plaza. Bisecting this major axis is a strong axis in the form of the stairway to Structure 33, the temple itself, and the group of monuments in the center of the Main Plaza. All these face northeast...This is not accidental, nor is it common at other Maya cities...At Yaxchilan's latitude, the sun rises at 115-116 degrees on winter solstice. The winter solstice buildings are set slightly outside the path of the sun...this allows for a few minutes of illumination of the interior of the buildings, providing the trees at the southeast end of the plaza were kept cut. Note that all the winter solstice alignments are found on the Main Plaza, where no tall buildings block the path of the sun on winter solstice. So these alignments suggest that at Yaxchilan, winter solstice was the time and direction for the commemoration of the deceased."(Carolyn E. Tate, Yaxchilan: The Design of a Maya Ceremonial City, p. 111).
In the first part of this Main Plaza are a number of dilapitated but interesting buildings oriented as described above, including a ball court.
There are actually a large number of large and small stella in heavily eroded condition at Yaxchilan. Some of these are under rudimentary shelters to slow disintegration. At the time, I understood that a least one was to be removed to a museum. Visit them while they still stand in their original location.
At the far end of the Main Plaza there are some large stells in heavily eroded condition that are nevertheless worth examining closely. My photos can't help much here, but at least you have an idea of their location.
I lost track of the difference between Structures 20 and 21 in terms of the photography, unfortunately, so any e-mail feedback regarding this would be helpful. In any case, there's a Mayan arch, a stella still in place, and another wonderful lintel. In the enhanced version of the stella, notice the additional relief exposed on the wall behind it.
Descending the stairs from the temple, Structures 20 and 21 are off to the right. We found an number of well preserved statues and stellas here. These buildings are in the same orientation as the temple, and so must have served important ceremonial or governmental purposes.
Structure 33 has several carved lintels and other stone work of some interest--some shown in the first three photos. These reliefs were precariously protected from the sun and rain by a fabric overhang. We also found an wonderful lintel, shown in the last two photos (enhanced and non-enhanced versions), which was in very fine condition, given its location on the underside of the doorway lintel. I have not yet deciphered the meaning of this obviously symbolic building inscription.
After paying the modest entrance fees, the hike up to the main plaza area of Yaxchilan is unsually narrow. Walls of stone flank the sides, and there are several dark buildings that can be entered. Bats in habit the ceilings here. Then, after walking through an entranceway, Yaxchilan open onto a broad plaza of ruins.
During your visti at Yaxchilan ruins you'll be accompanied by monkeys (howler monkeys I think). They will follow you on a safe distance, high in the trees and observe you.
In the ruins you'll also meet some spiders and bats.
You can find this stele at north-east side of the Grand Plaza. It was first ment to bring it to the museum, but it was to heavy for an airplane to cary it, so they left it here.
It represtents ruler Pajaro Jaguar IV (Bird Jaguar IV; AD 752-768).
At the entrance to the Grand Palace, we enjoyed an orchestra of Howling Monkeys, which never stopped throughout our visit. I guess we were intruding on their home :). The sound was so unique that one almost feared the thought of coming face to face with one of the monkeys.