Kabah, Mexico

Kabah is a Mayan site on the Yucatán Peninsula connected to nearby Uxmal by a ceremonial causeway. Its buildings date from about the 9th century and are in the Puuc style of architecture. Kabah is best known for its extraordinary palace that is completely covered in masks of the hook-nosed rain god Chac.

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History of Kabah

This area was inhabited by the 3rd century BC, but the principal buildings on the site date mostly from the 9th century AD (a sculpted date of 857 was found on one of the doorjambs). Kabah was abandoned by around 1200.

Not much is known about the history of Kabah, but It seems to have been a dependency of the great city of Uxmal. The two centers are linked by a sacbé, a Mayan "white road" used for ceremonial purposes.

The site was first explored in the mid-19th century by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood and the first systematic digs were carried out by Teobert Maler towards the end of the century. Later somewhat neglected by archaeologists, investigation of Kabah resumed in 1990.

A program began in 2003 to clear and restore more buildings and archeological excavations continue under the direction of Ramón Carrasco.

What to See at Kabah

Since 1993, the 2470-acre site that includes the Kabah ruins has been a designated conservation area (Parque Estatal). The ruins extend for a considerable distance on both sides of the highway and many of the more distant structures are little visited; others are still overgrown with forest.

A sacbé, or Mayan ceremonial causeway, links Kabah with Uxmal. It is a raised pedestrian walkway 5 meters wide with ceremonial arches at each end.

All the buildings excavated so far at Kabah are in the traditional Puuc style, but they have also revealed unusual features attributed to Chenes influence.

The style called Puuc is named after a string of low hills that extend from western Campeche into the state of Yucatán. Puuc sites are very numerous and clearly were the focal point for Maya artistic and intellectual culture in this area. Typical characteristics of the Puuc style include (according to Encyclopædia Britannica):

The most notable structure at Kabah is the Palace of the Masks or Codz Poop (meaning "Rolled Matting"), which has a facade covered in hundreds of stone masks of the hook-nosed rain god Chac. This massive repetition of a single set of elements is unusual in Maya art and makes for an impressive sight.

Getting There

Kabah is situated right next the Mérida-Campeche road just 12.4 miles (20km) south of Uxmal. By road, Kabah is about 75mi (120km) from Campeche on the MEX 261 and about 80mi (130km) from Mérida on the MEX 261.

Buses run to Kabah from both Campeche and Mérida.

Quick Facts on Kabah

Site Information
Names:Kaba · Kabaah · Kabáh · Kahbah
Categories:temples; city ruins; ruins
Dedication: Chac
Dates:9th-12th centuries AD
Status: ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:20.248589° N, 89.647751° W
Address:Kabah, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Mexico
Hours:Daily 8-5
Lodging:View hotels near Kabah
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Pre-Columbian civilizations - Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. Kabah, Mexico - Planetware

More Information

Building featuring the hook-nosed god Chac. © Galen Frysinger
General view of the Kabah ruins. © Kyle Matthews

Map of Kabah, Mexico

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