Oxkintok is an archaeological site on the Yucatán Peninsula, located at the northern tip of the Puuc hills, a short distance east of Maxcanú and about 40 miles from Mérida. It is not far from Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc. The site is big, about three square miles, and contains pyramids, plazas, and palaces scattered amid high grass and trees. It is well-maintained but sparsely visited, and you may be the only visitor on the site.
Oxkintok is one of the oldest cities in the Yucatan with hieroglyphic inscriptions showing some of the earliest dates known in the Yucatán. It was settled as early as 350 BC, reached its peak in the Early Classic Period, and was continuously inhabited as late as 1000 AD. It was once an important ceremonial center in the Puuc region, and its architecture is representative of that style.
The site of Oxkintok Archeological Zone is open to visitors with a small admission fee from 8 to 5 daily. The only facility at the site is a free parking lot and a small palapa which serves as a ticket booth, but no rest rooms, refreshments or museum. The artifacts have been removed to the Museum of Anthropology in Mérida. Guides are available, and a nearby attraction is the Calcehtok caves.
The most popular structure at the site is the the labyrinth named “tzat tun tzat,” also known as Satunsat. This is a relatively small structure with a maze of vaulted tunnels connected by small gates and narrow stairs. It is easy to get lost inside, so bring a flashlight.
The central nucleus of Oxkintok is made up of a large plaza around which are three groups:
The Ah Canul group is an arrangement of several classes of buildings such as temples, pyramids, palaces, altars, stairs, squares and sacbeob. Notable among these are the The Chi’Ich palace, which belongs to the Puuc period with its characteristic dome and ornamentation of mosaic stone. Anthropomorphic stone columns, the men of stone, are located on the eastern side of the Canul group. These figures are fat beings dressed in decorated garments with intertwined robes, mesh vests and chest armor.
The May group is the best restored group of structures in the site. The pyramid is another labyrinth with painted and decorated walls.
The Dzib Group is the least known and least restored of the three groups. Six structures can be visited including the ball court, the temazcal and The Chaac Palace. During the restoration of the ball court, a circular hole was unearthed, and it is believed to be an ancient steam bath used for the purification and cleansing of the ball game players and pregnant women.
How To Get There
Oxkintok is located outside of the town of Maxcanú which is roughly 30 miles southwest of Merida. Oxkintok is about 30 miles northwest of Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc, about halfway between Mérida and Campeche.
To drive from Mérida, take highway 180 to the site near the intersection of Highway 188 and 184. One day tours are available out of Mérida. One could also take the public bus to Maxcanú and take a cab to the ruins.
There are no rest rooms or refreshments available at the ruins, so visitors are advised to bring their own water and protection from the sun.