The most-famous (if not quite the tallest) structure at the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, it’s the Temple of the Inscriptions:
The House of Doves (A.K.A. Casa de las Palomas) in the Maya ruins of Uxmal has one face that tends to be shown in tourist brochures and online photos. This is the other (north) face:
When I last visited, the structure was getting a bit of touch-up work done (thus, the scaffolding you can faintly see in the left of this photo). I think it’s a very photogenic structure regardless — even on the less-pretty side and with scaffolding in full view.
A carving, seen near the top of the Great Pyramid in the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal:
This little figure is part of the decoration on the Temple of the Warriors in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, Mexico:
I’m not sure how tall he is, since he’s mounted at a significant height off the ground, and can’t be seen from up close — you need a reasonably long lens and some perspective correction software to get a shot like this. Still, if you look closely, you can see that the figure is emerging from the jaws of a feathered serpent, with most of the serpent’s details carved in bas-relief into the building’s stones.
This past autumn, when I returned to the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, I had the opportunity to spend a night in a nearby hotel and so could watch the evening light show at the ruins. The main action takes place in the Nunnery Quadrangle, but as you can see here, the Pyramid of the Magician isn’t left out of the fun.
Granted, the colors can get a bit… garish… but the show as a whole is pretty impressive. And if you know a little Spanish, you get to hear a concise history of the site while watching the colored lights splashing on various buildings.
In our case, as happens pretty regularly (I’m told), we also got drenched right after the part of the show in which recorded voices (portraying plaintive inhabitants during the site’s historic drought) chant the name of the Maya rain god Chaac. Interesting coincidence, that…
One of the iconic sites at the ancient Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, seen from its north end looking to the south:
For some reason, this view doesn’t show up as often as does its opposite from the south end of the field. Still, you can really get a feel for the ball court’s size — particularly since those are two people just to the right of this two-frame panorama’s center.
A straight-on frontal shot of the House of the Cenote, in the ancient Maya ruins of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico:
No, it’s not the most artistic angle on this structure, but it does give you a good feeling for its size and design. This photo was shot from roughly the southeast (from the point of view of the sea, basically) and shows the face of the original part of the structure.
Some years later, a small shrine was added to the back of this building, directly over a small cenote that gives the whole construction its modern nickname.
It’s the Temple of the Frescoes, in the ancient Maya ruins of Tulum, Mexico:
Compare it to a photo from my previous visit, and you can see there’s been an unfortunate addition during the past few years — bracing in a couple of the doorways over on the photo’s left. Apparently, the structure’s developing some structural issues — hopefully they can be addressed without too much change to the building.
Seen in the ancient Maya ruins of Calakmul, Mexico — five stelae at the foot of Structure II:
Calakmul has no shortage of the vertical monuments called stelae, 117 at last count (the most of any site in the region). Â Sadly, the local limestone is fairly soft, so most of them are eroded to the point where much of the once-rich detail has been lost to weathering. Â But they can still make strong elements of a photographic composition if you’re careful with the lighting you’re working with.
An angled shot of Building 2 (Temple of the Cormorants) at the ancient Maya ruins of DzibanchÃ© in Quintana Roo, MÃ©xico:
DzibanchÃ© is an amazing little site to visit — it doesn’t get the press of the bigger sites (so there are never crowds), but it still has lots of interesting structures to see.
The Temple of the Cormorants is the site’s tallest structure, but sadly you can’t climb it. Â Still, plenty to see from ground level. Â This structure contains three burial chambers, one stacked atop the next in its core. Â In the bottom one, archaeologists found the tomb of a member of the city’s elite, with a wealth of grave goods — including a polychrome vessel decorated with cormorants (giving the structure its modern name).
This shot’s taken from the northwest of the building — even from here you can see some of the structure’s many layers of construction, and you can just make out the stucco carvings under the sheltering roofs along the steps on its side.