Though far less impressive than many Maya sites, Mayapán is historically significant – it was one of the last major dynasties in the region and established itself as the center of Maya civilization from 1200 to 1440. The site’s main attractions are clustered in a compact core, and visitors usually have the place to themselves. It is also one of few sites where you can ascend to the top of the pyramid.
The city of Mayapán was large, with a population estimated to be around 12,000; it covered 4 sq km, all surrounded by a great defensive wall. More than 3500 buildings, 20 cenotes and traces of the city wall were mapped by archaeologists working in the 1950s and in 1962. The late-post-Classic artisanship is inferior to that of the great age of Maya art.
Among the structures that have been restored is the Castillo de Kukulcán, a climbable pyramid with fresco fragments around its base and, at its rear side, friezes depicting decapitated warriors. The reddish color is still faintly visible. The Templo Redondo (Round Temple) is vaguely reminiscent of El Caracol at Chichén Itzá.
Don’t confuse the ruins of Mayapán with the Maya village of the same name, which is about 40km southeast of the ruins, past the town of Teabo.
The Ruinas de Mayapán are just off Hwy 184, a few kilometers southwest of the town of Telchaquillo and some 50km southeast of Mérida. Although some 2nd-class buses run to Telchaquillo (M$50, 1½ hours, hourly), consider renting a car to get here.