Yucatán State & the Maya Heartland

Sayil is best known for El Palacio, the huge three-tiered building that has an 85m-long facade. The distinctive columns of Puuc architecture are used often here, either as supports for the lintels, as decoration between doorways or as a frieze above them, alternating with stylized Chaac masks and ‘descending gods.’

Taking the path south from the palace for about 400m and bearing left, you come to the temple named El Mirador, whose rooster-like roofcomb was once painted a bright red. About 100m beyond El Mirador, beneath a protective palapa, is a stela bearing the relief of a fertility god with an enormous phallus, now sadly weathered.

Grupo Sur is a bit further, and offers beautiful jungle-covered ruins with tree roots twisting through the walls.

The ruins of Sayil are 4.5km from the junction of the Ruta Puuc with Hwy 261.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Yucatán State & the Maya Heartland attractions

1. Xlapak

2.86 MILES

The ornate palacio at Xlapak (shla-pak), also spelled Xlapac, is quite a bit smaller than those at nearby Kabah and Sayil, measuring only about 20m in…

2. Labná

4.79 MILES

This is the Ruta Puuc site not to miss. Archaeologists believe that, at one point in the 9th century, some 3000 Maya lived at Labná. To support such…

3. Kabah


Kabah is one of the few Maya settlements in the area that has retained its original name (meaning 'the powerful hand'). Second only to Uxmal in the Puuc…

4. Santa Elena Museum

10.36 MILES

The only reason you go to this tiny museum is for the view (it's perched on a hill) and to support the locals – both worth doing. Displays are modest,…

5. Grutas de Loltún

13.74 MILES

One of the largest dry-cave systems on the Yucatán Peninsula, Loltún ('stone flower' in Maya) provided a treasure trove of data for archaeologists…

6. Casa de la Vieja

14.5 MILES

Off the southeast corner of the Palacio del Gobernador’s platform is a small complex, now largely rubble, known as the Casa de la Vieja. In front of it is…

7. Palacio del Gobernador

14.62 MILES

The Governor’s Palace, with its magnificent facade nearly 100m long, is arguably the most impressive structure at Uxmal. The buildings have walls filled…

8. Uxmal Ruins

14.64 MILES

Pronounced oosh-mahl, Uxmal's size and uniqueness make it a fascinating stop for ruin-lovers and novices alike. The top draws are the oddly shaped…