Cenote Xlacah (5).jpg



2006 - Present

  • Jennie Bjarnason


Updated: Apr 9


Settled originally around 300 BC, Dzibilchaltun was one of the oldest and most successful of Mayan centers in what is now Yucatan State. Covering over 80 square km, only 31 have been excavated, and have revealed an astonishing 8500 structures. The more time you have to explore, the more you will see. We often found ourselves on our own, when we were at sites outside of the main center area. We were also alone the entire time we were out at the Temple of Seven Dolls.

The Temple of Seven Dolls is an amazing temple constructed as an observatory, to track the sun, moon and stars. When it was excavated, there were seven "grotesque" dolls found in the inner chamber of the temple, hence the name. Unfortunately, when it was excavated, archaeologists were unaware that the sun passed directly overhead, casting light inside the inner room of the structure. They made the mistake of closing the roof in. When approaching the temple, it's hard to see there is a room within a room. Getting closer, it becomes evident that the inner room is built slightly higher than the outer room.

Once inside the temple, it's interesting to look out through the small windows that were markers for the stars, and other astronomic activities. It's more evidence of the amazing mathematics of the Maya. (Please Note: It is no longer possible to enter this temple).

Dzibilchaltun is a unique experience, as there are very few tourists here at any given time, even in high season. Some of the temples are picturesque, with trees growing on top, with roots loosening the stones, hence causing structural damage.

The Church is evidence that this site was inhabited at contact in the 1540's. Though it was never finished, it left behind a powerful sense of how much force the Church had over the indigenous population. Mayan temples were debuilt, to construct part of this unfinished church. Thankfully, they did not debuild the Temple of Seven Dolls, which is basically the "town clock."

A truly magestic treat to visiting Dzibilchaltun, is the cenote Xlacah. It is over 40 meters deep, full of turquoise and emerald green colour, and as with many city cenotes, was used for rituals. In 1958, the National Geographic Society sent divers into the cenote Xlacah, to discover nearly 30,000 artefacts. The cenote is part of an underground river that empties in the Gulf of Mexico, near Progresso. Though it was used for ritual, it is very unlike the murky cenotes at Chichen Itza. In fact, Cenote Xlacah is a popular swim-hole for locals, and an amazing suprise to tourists and travellors alike, who jump in and cool off, on a hot Yucatecan day! When I visited in February, the lily pads grew in one area of the cenote. When i returned in April, they had overtaken the cenote. I'm unsure if it has to do with the time of year.

When leaving Dzibilchaltun, there is a fabulous museum at the entrance, where many incredible artefacts are on display.

Hope you enjoy the tranquil quiet of Dzibilchaltun as I have.

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