Visiting the Mayan Muyil Ruins in Mexico
If you’ve ever fancied a trip to Mexico, then be sure to fit a visit into Muyil (also known as Chunyaxché). Here you’ll discover some of the most breath-taking and stunning views of the Muyil Ruins, a place once inhabited by the Mayans. Now it is an archaeological site which is frequented by many thousands of tourists every year.
Located in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Muyil is around 20 minutes from Tulum or 1.5 hours from Cancun. Muyil is the most notable of the 22 pre-Hispanic settlements of the Sian Ka’ and is situated 12 kilometers inland from the Caribbean shoreline, within the North-western border of the Sian Ka’ Biosphere Reserve. There are two additional archeological sites on the Maya reserve, these being the Tulum and Xel-Ha Mayan settlements located on the main Riviera Maya coast.
There are two main archaeological sites in Muyil, but only one is open to the public. It might be handy for you to know that archaeologists often refer to the public site as Muyil A and the private one as Muyil B.
A Brief History of Muyil Quintana Roo
Situated within and surrounded by some of the most spectacular natural formations, Muyil Quintana Roo is home to some of the oldest archaeological sites. Archeologists assume that the Mayan settlement dates back to around 300 BC, centuries before other ancient sites such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Tulum thus making it one of the earliest settlements on the Caribbean coast.
It is believed that Muyil was a densely populated settlement during the pre-Hispanic era. Numerous subterranean chambers have been found at this site and it has a very different feel from other Mayan sites in the Yucatan. The architecture, with rounded edges on its pyramid and other buildings, and its proximity to protected Caribbean waters makes it an interesting contrast in comparison to some of the more harsh-looking architecture of the inland sites.
Additionally, the site’s proximity to Muyil Lagoon made it an important maritime trade route, with relations to nearby Coba well documented.
Muyil reached its cultural peak in approximately 700 AD when most of the temples and main buildings were constructed. Like other sites on the Caribbean, there is evidence that a lot of reverence was given to feminine deities. Many representations of the Mayan moon goddess have been found here.
An Unfortunate Ending
When the Spanish conquistadors invaded during the 16th Century, many of the settlers were either killed by the Spanish, fled the ancient settlement or died from diseases brought over by the European invaders. The buildings which survived all the ransacking were either private homes or public spaces which hosted important civic and religious ceremonies.
Archaeologists are currently researching the role of Muyil as an inland seaport which connected with the Caribbean via the Punta Allen Peninsula.
Muyil Ruins Tour
There is a circular path that leads you to the restored temples and other buildings. Please note that there is continued research in the site which means you may see ongoing building and renovation work. For all the wildlife lovers out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the surrounding areas are inhabited by all sorts of animals such as armadillo, deer, gray fox, peccary and spider monkey. Tourists have stated that you can hear howler monkeys at the site.
The entire Muyil trail takes about one hour to do. We recommend that you take a relaxed walk down a path which is likely to be populated with birds, butterflies and an abundance of fascinating wildlife. This path leads to the lagoon in the Sian Ka´an biosphere.
From here, you can arrange a boat ride to see other ancient Mayan sites within the biosphere. You get to see, hear and experience the crystal clear waters of the lagoon and the lush mangroves, which have been described as a nature lover’s delight.
As you float gently through canals, which have been used for over 2,000 years, you feel harmonious and at-one with nature.
Other Stunning Features
El Castillo (The Castle) – Is unmissable! Measuring 17 meters in height. This is the tallest structure in the whole of the North-Central coast of Quintana Roo. This gargantuan edifice greets you as you walk through the entrance of the Muyil Ruins.
Behind the main Castillo structure, there is a path that will lead you to a small wooden hut. Here you can pay a small fee to enter a trail into the actual Sian Ka’an area. The trail is a tranquil and relaxing walk and comes highly recommended, as you may be able to observe the fresh water that boils up from cenotes. For all the tree-lovers, several of the different tree types are marked.
The Observation Tower – Going up the steep steps towards the observation is another must-do. The views from the top are of the luscious green treetops and overlook the beautiful clear waters of the lagoon. Be prepared for a steep climb up, so make sure to lather on the sunscreen beforehand and bring lots of fluids to keep hydrated.