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Mayan Archaeological Site in Campeche, Mexico



The main plaza and Gran Acropolis at Edzna

Luca Penati, Flickr Creative Commons

This Mayan archeological site is located in the state of Campeche, Mexico, around 33 miles southeast of the city of Campeche.

The site is thought to have been inhabited from around 400BC to the 15th century AD. As with many of the Maya ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula, the reasons for the eventual abandonment of the city are unknown. 

Several impressive ruins make up the site, which is surrounded by jungle. The main structures of interest are the Plataforma de los Cuchillos (Platform of the Knives), the massive Nonochna (Big House) and Plaza Principal, with its large open quadrangle and rows of bleachers, and the Gran Acropolis, which comprises a magnificent five story structure called Edificio de los Cincos Pisos. A grand central staircase of 65 steps rises to the top of the structure.

A palapa to the southeast of the Plaza Principal shelters several intricate, impressively intact carvings of the sun god (complete with remnants of red stucco) that give a good idea of what the entire complex would have looked like in its heyday.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the site, at least at the time of my visit, was how deserted it is. Unlike more high-profile Maya ruins like Chichen Itza and Uxmal, Edzna is way under the tourist radar, which makes for an incredibly serene tour. There’s little to distract from the eerie, time-stands-still quality of those monumental stone ruins, a testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Maya, whose understanding of mathematics, astronomy and architecture was highly advanced.  The birds and iguanas have the place to themselves at Edzna. It’s magical…and just a touch spooky.

How to Get to Edzná:

Several tour companies operate tours of the site, although given how compact the ruins are, it may not be worthwhile if you’ve already visited other Maya sites and are happy to wander around on your own.

From Campeche, join one of the collectivos, mini-vans that ferry passengers to various points within and outside of the city, found inside the main market (confirm your destination with the driver.) On leaving, you’ll have to walk out to the highway to flag down one of the collectivos on its way back in to Campeche (they pass every half an hour or so) or do what my husband and I did – hail a random bus whose destination read Campeche…the driver was happy to take us along for the ride.

What it Costs:

At the time of writing, the entrance fee was $45 pesos.


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