Merida Yucatan Mexico Information-Travel Guide

Mayan ruins of Mayapan




Mayapan's history

Mayapan, meaning Banner of the Mayas, is considered the last great Maya capital, dating back to the beginning of the common Era and reaching its golden age in the Postclassic period. It is believed that this city once had a population of 12,000 inhabitants. Kukulkan II of Chichen Itza founded Mayapan between 1263 and 1283 AD. After his death an aggressive family Cocoom seized power and used Mayapan as a base to subjugate northern Yucatan. They succeeded through wars using Tabascan mercenaries and intermarrying with other powerful families. The Cocoom ruled for 250 years until 1441-1461 AD when an upsart Uxmal based family named Xiu rebelled and slaughtered the Cocoom.



Architectural similarity to Chichen Itza

Mayapan's ancient grandeur is still evident in its great buildings. There is a strong influence played by Chichen Itza, as seen in its main building. The main square was bordered by government, administrative and religious buildings, as well as the homes of the ruling class. These constructions were built over foundations of rows of columns, with temples and oratories, an altar at the back and benches along the sides. Also found are the round buildings known as "Observatories" and small sanctuaries representative of the ancient cities.




Scenes of war

The painted murals which are still visible are the style used in the codices of the post classic period. The murals show scenes of war and events related to the death cult, evidence of the cultural links with races from the high plains of central Mexico.

The alliance

Although it is believed that Mayapan together with Uxmal and Chichen Itza formed a triple alliance, recent archaeological excavations indicate that these two last cities actually flourished well before Mayapan. What does appear true is that the city had a centralized form of government similar to that of Chichen Itza. Mayapan continued to prosper between 1250 and 1450. The mid 1400's marked the end of the city when a rebellion overthrew Mayapan and nearly destroyed the city. In the mid-XV century, Mayapan was destroyed, burned and abandoned. As more research and investigations are carried out in this area it is becoming increasingly clear that this city was even more important than had been thought previously.


The Mayapan archeological site is located 47km southeast of Merida.




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