The Ek Balam ruins are all that remain of a once-thriving Mayan temple city. Ek Balam was the center of a large Mayan kingdom through the Classical era. Only part of the ancient city was actually excavated, so what you see when you visit Ek Balam is the “tip of the iceberg.” The city was large and was a gathering place where people came to work, trade goods, and worship. Ek Balam was a fortified city as well, surrounded by a high outer wall and a second inner wall to protect it from attack. The city boasted not just practical fortifications but also plenty of art and luxury. Many structures are richly engraved, and the city featured at least one public steam bath! The iconic Acropolis at Ek Balam is a massive pyramid and is believed to contain the tomb of leader Ukit Kan Le’k Tok. The pyramid is built in a singular style, unlike similar ones found at Chichen Itza and Coba. The pyramid has a flat top, but the sides are punctuated with rectangular shelters set into the stonework. The acropolis also features an intricately carved frieze depicting pieces of Mayan myths and decorations.
Stone commemorative slabs or stelae inform a great deal of what we know of Ek Balam today, including a long register of rulers.
Along with the acropolis, there is also an oval-shaped palace located on the site; this is likely where rulers or VIPs of the city would have lived. The city lasted for centuries, though with significantly fewer people approaching the 11th century when, mysteriously, it was abandoned entirely.
Is there a museum at Ek Balam?
There is no museum located on the site of Ek Balam. However, the small visitors’ center does provide restrooms. Hotels, restaurants, and information centers can be found in nearly any nearby town, including Valladolid.