Campeche State

Aptly named ‘House of the Snake’s Jaws,’ this Maya site is best known for one remarkably well-preserved doorway with a hideous fanged visage. Located 10km west of Xpujil and 400m south of Hwy 186, Chicanná is a mixture of Chenes and Río Bec architectural styles buried in the jungle. The city attained its peak during the late Classic period, from AD 550 to 700, as a sort of elite suburb of Becán.

Beyond the admission pavilion, follow the rock paths through the jungle to Estructura XX, which boasts two monster-mouth doorways, one above the other. The top structure is impressively flanked by rounded stacks of crook-nosed Chaac masks.

A five-minute walk along the jungle path brings you to Estructura XI, with what remains of some of the earliest buildings. Continue along the main path about 120m northeast to reach the main plaza. Standing on the east side is Chicanná’s famous Estructura II, with its gigantic Chenes-style monster-mouth doorway, believed to depict the jaws of the god Itzamná – lord of the heavens and creator of all things. Note the painted glyphs to the right of the mask. A path leading from the right corner of Estructura II takes you to Estructura VI, which has a well-preserved roofcomb and some beautiful profile masks on its facade. Circle around the back, noting the faded red-painted blocks of the west wing, then turn right to hike back to the main entrance.

Chicanna is 10km west of Xpujil and 2km west of Becán.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Campeche State attractions

1. Becán

1.49 MILES

The Maya word for ‘canyon’ or ‘moat’ is becán, and indeed a 2km moat snakes its way around this must-visit Maya site. Seven causeways provide access…

2. Xpuhil


The ruins of Xpuhil are a striking example of the Río Bec style. The three towers (rather than the usual two) of Estructura I rise above a dozen vaulted…

3. Hormiguero

6.72 MILES

The buildings of Hormiguero date as far back as AD 50; the city (whose modern name is Spanish for ‘anthill’) flourished during the late Classic period…

4. Río Bec

10.14 MILES

A collection of small but significant structures in 74 groupings, Río Bec covers a 100-sq-km area southeast of Xpujil, and is the only place where all…

5. Cueva de los Murciélagos

22.12 MILES

At sundown every evening some two to three million bats swirl up from the depths of a dry cenote, forming a tornado of fur and wings that's a surreal…

6. Museo de Naturaleza y Arqueología

28.46 MILES

Calakmul's modern Museo de Naturaleza y Arqueología has geological, archaeological and natural-history exhibits that are well displayed and provide a…