Ek Balam Travel Guide

  • Ek Balam
    Ek Balam
    by Kuznetsov_Sergey
  • El Trono
    El Trono
    by Kuznetsov_Sergey
  • Twins
    by Kuznetsov_Sergey

Ek Balam Things to Do

  • El Trono

    The Acropolis houses the possible tomb of king Ukit Kan Le'k Tok', who ruled from 770 (the starting year of the “height” of this city) to 797 or 802 CE.This is the temple in which Ukit Kan Le'k Tok' is supposedly buried, called El Trono (‘The Throne’). The doorway is in the shape of a monster-like mouth, probably depicting a jaguar. One of the most...

  • Acropolis

    Structure 1 or the Acropolis on the North side of the site is the largest structure at Ek' Balam and is believed to contain the tomb of Ukit Kan Le'k Tok', an important ruler in Ek’ Balam. Excavations on it began in 1998, when it was just a mound. The structure has 525 ft. (160 m.) of length, 230 ft. (70m.) of width and 102 ft. (31 m.) of height....

  • Twins and Ballcourt

    On the South Plaza you will also see the Twins atop of which there are two mirroring temples on either side.Facing Structure 17 is Stela 1. This monument depicts a ruler of Ek Balam, probably Ukit Jol Ahkul.Another attractive structure is the Ballcourt.You can watch my photo of Ek' Balam on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates...

  • Oval Palace

    Before visiting the Acropolis you would better detour towards the South Plaza. Its largest structure is the Oval Palace (or the Structure 16). The Oval Palace contained burial relics and its alignment is assumed to be connected to cosmological ceremonies. You will also see the Steam Bath not far from it.You can watch my 2 min 12 sec Video Ek' Balam...

  • Entrance Arch

    About 50 structures are surrounded by two concentric stone walls plus there is another wall that unites the central buildings. The walls were used to control the access. The city was one of the longest continuously inhabited Maya sites. The Entrance Arch stands at the entrance of Ek’ Balam on four legs, constructed over the road that leads into the...

  • Ruinas

    They are a VERY small set of ruins compared to some in the area. And they cost more than some of the others as well (but still less than Uxmal and Chichen Itza). The reason is you have to pay for both INAH and Culture. It is worth the visit because the view from the top of the pyramid is absolutely amazing. You get a 360 degree view which is...

  • Cenote at ecological park of X-Canche

    Near Ek Balam there is a cenote as when i was arriving i was alone i was in doubt to go there.But in Ek Balam i met Biamtim and told him about it.So we went together. It is very deep and you need to walk down.There were tubes for to use in the water after you could shower in some cabines but no light.I think it is also a nice place to stay. A...


    Every Mayan ruin has to have a ball court and Ek Balam is no exception. The court here can be found just to the west of las Gamelas.


    The largest structure at Ek Balam, the Acropolis - also known as la Torre - contains the tomb of Ukit Kna Le'k Tok'. Measuring 146 meters across by 55 meters wide, the Acropolis is also some 29 meter high which means you get some great views out over the jungle plains of the Yucatan. From atop you can gaze all the way to Coba in the southeast over...


    The excellently preserved limestone stellae in the South Plaza depicts a ruler of Ek Balam, probably Ukit Jol Ahkul. Magnificent sculpture and frescos have been discovered here on the site, especially those found on the terraces of the Acropolis.


    Just east of the archway/el Arco is la Redonda, also known as the Oval Palace. From the top of this semi-circular building you have a grand view over the south Plaza towards the impressive Acropolis/la Torre. The similar looking buildings on the west side of the Plaza are known as las Gamelas - the Twins.


    This free-standing korbel archway stands at the intersection of four sacbeob and was probably used for ceremony, ritual or both. El Arco was one of five entrances to Ek Balam. From the arch you enter into the South Plaza.


    Sacbe - plural is sacbeob - means 'white ways' in the local Mayan dialect. These were raised paved roads which connected temples, plazas and other groups of buildings within ceremonial sites. Longer sacbeob could also connect cities - the longest running from Merida to the Caribbean near present-day Cancun. The longer roads were used for...

  • Las Gemelas - The Twins

    The "Gemelas" structure forms the west side of the Sourth Plaza at Ek Balam.The structure consists of two identical temples and staircases, hence the name "Las Gemelas" During the Summer Solstice, the sun shines through the small opening in the center between the two buildings, creating no shadows whatsoever within the shaft. It is the only day of...

  • Freestanding Arch

    This newly reconstructed archway would be considered to be the entrance to Ek Balam. You must pass by three defensive walls, in a zig-zag pattern, to reach this arch. This entry was once closed off by sealing the arch entryway, thereby creating a defensive perimeter with the walls.

  • See for miles....

    At the top of the main temple, you can see for up to 30 miles. If you look in one direction, you can see the ruins of Coba, and the other direction, the ruins of Chichen Itza. Our guide said that it is significant that the three cities make up a triangular shape, an important geometrical shape in the Mayan world.

  • El Torre - The Tower

    The largest of the structures at Ek Balam is El Torre. This tower is the result of many generations of construction, literally layer upon layer. Every 52 years, the Mayans thought that the world would be destroyed, so they destroyed their temples in preparation for this day. When it didn't happen, they then commenced rebuilding on the existing...

  • Mouth of the tomb

    Underneath the outermost layer of the wall of the tower, the tomb of the ruler of Ek Balam was found by archeologists. The door has the appearance of being a jaguar's mouth, complete with eyes, nose, and fearsome teeth. Small statues adorn the structure, with such intricate details as being able to see patterns of their clothes and braids in their...


Ek Balam Transportation

  • How to get to Ek' Balam

    Ek' Balam is located in about 50 kilometres northeast of Chichen Itza.Ek Balam is easily reached from major highways in the state of Yucatan. It is close to Mérida, Valladolid, and Chichen Itzá. The usual blue and white tourist signs indicate the direction on the highway. There are no buses that go to Ek Balam. You need to take a car, taxi, or...

  • Collectivo

    The cheapest way to get to Ek Balam is to take a Collectivo from Valladolid. It costs from 30 to 40 pesos per person. When you are in Valladolid, you can catch a collectivo on calle 44. During the less busy time, they won't run the collectivos but instead will take you out in a taxi. But in order to get the good price deal you have to have 4 people...

  • Taxi from Valladolid to Ek Balam

    Near my hotel there was a shared Taxi stop.Arrived there around 8.15 and had to wait for a third person to get in around 8.55 we finally left. I had to pay 40 pesos think it was 30 for Mexicans.Taxi (collectivo) was at Calle 44 n0 182 and Calle 36 at the front of a bikeshop.Arrived at 9.25 in Ek Balam


Ek Balam Off The Beaten Path

  • shdw100's Profile Photo

    Ruins of Ek Balam

    by shdw100 Updated Sep 4, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ek Balam, located just north of Valladolid and south of Tizimin, Quintana Roo, Mexico, is a great site! Just opened about 6 months before we got there, and there was NO people there. We got a spanish guide and he took us to places that we would have never known, caves and artifacts galore!! It was very pristine and undisturbed. Only about 1/4 of the entire site is uncovered, so you can really go exploring and feel like a archeologist!

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Ek Balam General

  • Ek’ Balam or Black Jaguar

    Ek' Balam is a Yucatec-Maya archaeological site in Yucatan. Ek’ Balam was the capital of the Maya Great Talol Empire. It had a population of more than 15,000 inhabitants in 12 square Kms. approximately. From the Preclassic until the Postclassic period, it was the seat of a Mayan kingdom.Ek’ Balam was rediscovered and explored first by influential...

  • More amazing stone work

    Just another example of the fine stone and stucco work that that Mayans performed to adorn their temples and buildings. Absolutely facinating!

  • Absolutely amazing stone work

    Of all the Mayan and Aztec sites that I have visited, Ek Balam takes the prize hands down for the intricacies of the sculptures that the ancient civilization made. I was facinated that they could perform such exquisite, detailed work. It really shows the care and precision that the Mayans took in creating temples to their gods! They wanted the...


Top 10 Less-Crowded Mayan Ruins: Ek Balam

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Ek Balam, which means "black jaguar" in the Yucatec Maya language, is one of the few Mayan settlements that remained occupied until the arrival of the Spaniards. While not the hardest site to get to (it's in the Yucatan), it is under active restoration, so visitors can get a great overview of the entire archaeological process. Ek Balam is also not nearly as crowded as other notable Yucatan Mayan sites, such as Chichén Itza and Uxmal. One unique aspect of this site is the 100-foot El Torre (or Acropolis) pyramid, which easily surpasses Chichén Itza's El Castillo; visitors can still scale El Torre today. Once climbers reach the top, they can see both Chichén Itza and Coba in the distance!

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