Cuadrángulo de las Monjas

Yucatán State & the Maya Heartland

The 74-room, sprawling Nuns’ Quadrangle is directly west of the Casa del Adivino. Archaeologists guess variously that it was a military academy, royal school or palace complex. The long-nosed face of Chaac appears everywhere on the facades of the four separate temples that form the quadrangle. The northern temple, the grandest of the four, was built first, followed by the southern, then the eastern and finally the western.

Several decorative elements on the exuberant facades show signs of Mexican, perhaps Totonac, influence. The feathered-serpent (Quetzalcóatl, or in Maya, Kukulcán) motif along the top of the west temple’s facade is one of these. Note also the stylized depictions of the na (traditional Maya thatched hut) over some of the doorways in the northern and southern buildings.

Passing through the corbeled arch in the middle of the south building of the quadrangle and continuing down the slope takes you through the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court). From here you can turn left and head up the steep slope and stairs to the large terrace. If you have time, you could instead turn right to explore the western Grupo del Cementerio (which, though largely unrestored, holds some interesting square blocks carved with skulls in the center of its plaza), then head for the stairs and terrace.