Mayan architecture

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An artistic expression of the mayan culture.

Mayan architecture is one of the most awesome features of Mayan art to admire on your travel to any area of the Mayan World.

Even after over 2000 years, the magnificence in Mayan architecture and artistic skills of these outstanding Mayan people are still present in all the Mayan pyramids.

You can admire their achievments in every temple and in all other Mayan structures, in the Mexican States of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Chiapas and Tabasco, as well as in Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

Let me tell you that some of the archaeological sites have become World Heritage sites such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Palenque.

Chichen Itza was also chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

The ancient Mayans were extraordinary architects, engineers and designers, and they had a perfect knowledge of Mayan astronomy, mathematics and geometry.

The Mayans knew how to calculate curves to build the famous Mayan Arch and the vaulted chambers.

To achieve this knowledge they had to be highly intelligent and received, of course, the proper education.

Once the construction project was drawn on prepared fig tree bark, a paper similar to ours, which the Mayans invented, it was presented before the king and other members of high social rank, and according to their desires and needs it was and either accepted or changed.

Taking into consideration that the ancient Mayans did not have any metal tools, but carving hard stones into chisels and hammers in different sizes and forms, that they did not count on animals for transportation and did not use the wheel, although they already knew it, makes their achievements even worthier of great admiration.

What Styles of Mayan Architecture Can You find in the Yucatan Peninsula?

In the Yucatan Peninsula, depending on the region, the Mayan architectureacquired different Mayan styles due to the great interactive Mayan trade and the cultural interchange among the neighboring States of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche as well as with the neighboring countries.

The main styles in Mayan architecture that you will find in the Yucatan Peninsula are:

  • Maya Toltec Style Architecture
  • Puuc Style Architecture
  • Peten Style Architecture
  • Rio Bek Style Architecture
  • Chenes Style Architecture

Mayan architecture is truly a manifestation of the amazing knowledge and achievments of the ancient Mayans, as well as of the spirituality embodied in every part of the structures, which they achieved over 2000 years ago, and of which you can hardly disengage yourself while visiting the Mayan archaeological sites.

If you love art, you will truly admire the different manifestations of the Mayan architecture styles!

Maya Toltec Style Architecture

In the Maya Toltec style, you will observe an inclination at the base of the structures and large row of columns.

You will also observe large human figures carved in stone with Mayan glyph inscriptions, stone carvings of huge heads of plumed serpents, jaguars, eagles and skulls.

And you will also see idols with their bodies turned sideways and their heads turned forward, holding a bowl on their knees, called chacmols.

Where do you find it?

You find it mainly in the Yucatan state in the north group in Chichen Itza.

Puuc Style Architecture

In the Puuc style you will observe exuberantly decorated facades with high reliefs and carvings in stone of images of the Mayan god Chaac

Where can you observe the Puuc style?

You will mainly see this extraordinary Mayan architecture style is in the Mayan Puuc area in the archaeological site of Uxmal. You will also see it in Kabah, Labna, Sayil and Xlapak, which are the four Mayan sites included in the Puuc Route tour, and as well as in Oxkintok, an amazing “off the beaten path” archaological site in this area.

And you will also find it on your Yucatan travel in the Chichen Itza Ruins called Old Chichen area.

Peten Style Architecture

The Peten style is a characteristic influence from Guatemala, and you find it in archaeological sites similar to Tikal.

It has extraordinarily high structures with steep walls and steep staircases, false facades, and tall crests atop the upper chambers of the Mayan pyramids as an additional decorative motive.

The Peten style was developed during the Classic period between 625 and 800 AD.

You will observe the influence of the Peten style with this type of crests in the states of Yucatan, Quintanamayan architecture peten Roo and Campeche.

In the Yucatan state, you will find it in the sites of Uxmal – in the House of the Doves, in Kabah – in the Godzpop building and in the building called the Palace, and in Chichen Itza – in the Red House or Casa Colorada with crest and false façade.

And in Quintana Roo state you will observe that the steep walls and steep staircases are visible in the archaeological sites of Coba, Kohunlich and Muyil.

Rio Bek Style Architecture

The Rio Bek style has a long rectangular foundation with two massive round towers atop the main structures without any special function, as well as nonfunctional staircases on Mayan pyramids, temples and structures.

This Mayan architecture style appeared during the Classic Period around 700 AD and continued till the Late Post Classic Period about 1200 AD.

You will mainly find this style in three archaeological sites are located in the jungle of the Campeche State, and if you like “off the beaten path” places, these are definitely for you: Calakmul, Rio Bec and Xpujil , although Xpujil is an exception, as it is the only Mayan pyramid that has three towers.

You will also find this style in some structures of Kohunlich in the Costa Maya in Quintana Roo State.

Chenes Style Architecture

The Chenes is a characteristic style of the Campeche State.

You will see that it has heavily decorated facades in high reliefs with many mythological creatures, Mayan masks of the Mayan god of rain Chaac, with the curling nose, and representations of the Mayan god Itzamna with open fauces as entrance door of important Mayan pyramids.

You will find the Chenes style mainly in Mayan pyramids, temples and structures in the state of Campeche in the archaeological sites of Santa Rosa Xtampak, Hochob and Dzibilnocac, not far from Campeche City.

And you can also see it on your Yucatan travel in the Yucatan state in the sites of Uxmal at the east side structure of the Temple of the Magician, and Chichen Itza at the east façade of the Nunnery.


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