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The fascinating ruined city of Ek' Balam reached its peak in the 8th century, before being suddenly abandoned. Vegetation still covers much of the archaeological site, but it's well organized and has a lovely, lush setting. Interesting features include a pyramid-like structure near the entrance, as well as a fine arch and a ball court. Most impressive, though, is the gargantuan Acrópolis, whose well-restored base is 160m long and holds a ‘gallery’ – actually a series of separate chambers.

Built atop the base of the Acrópolis is Ek’ Balam’s massive main pyramid, reaching a height of 32m and sporting a gaping jaguar mouth. Below the mouth are stucco skulls, while above and to the right sits an amazingly expressive figure. On the right side stand unusual winged human figures (some call them Maya angels, although a much more likely explanation is that they are shaman or medicine men).

The turnoff for the archaeological site is 17km north of Valladolid, and the ruins are another 6km east from the turnoff.