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Ichkabal Archaeological Zone

Zona Arqueológica De Ichkabal

The place is located to the west of the Laguna de los Siete Colores. Visitors will find an environment full of numerous archaeological sites of minor relevance and close to the pre-Hispanic site of Dzibanché. Ichkabal, is the name of this pre-Columbian site of the ancient Mayans. It is a Mayan word that means “between lows”, which is probably related to the geographical characteristics of the area.

The name of Ichkabal was given to it only at the beginning of 1995, when the first researchers arrived at the site with the support of guides from the area. This pre-Columbian site is emerging as one of the best places to visit in the Mexican Caribbean, as part of a vacation in the Magical Town of Bacalar.

Importance of the pre-Hispanic site of Ichkabal

To date, Ichkabal is one of the most important deposits that have been found in the south of the Quintana Roo territory. It has several structures of enormous archaeological interest due to its large dimensions.

Some of them are up to 46 meters high. Such monumentality reveals the social and political importance that this Mayan city had at its time of greatest development.

According to the investigations of the archaeologists, Ichkabal covers about thirty square kilometers in total extension.

One of the most interesting details about Ichkabal is that many of its buildings, temples and pyramids have yet to be discovered.

How is the archaeological site of Ichkabal in Bacalar

Research work carried out in 2009 revealed that Ichkabal was a Mayan settlement of enormous antiquity, most likely beginning in the middle Preclassic period or perhaps in the late Preclassic period. Proof of this is the monumentality of the structures it includes.

Now, what does the archaeological site of Ichkabal look like? This pre-Hispanic area includes three large plinths and a set of plazas, all of them located in each of the corners of the vast plaza they define. Ichkabal incorporates six architectural ensembles, as well as four good-sized watering holes.

To date, the foundations of Ichkabal have been named according to their position in that archaeological complex: SW, SE, NE, and NW.

The experience of visiting the archaeological site of Ichkabal

It is always nice to visit the Magical Town of Bacalar for ecotourism purposes or to sail on the famous Laguna de los Siete Colores. Right in the vicinity of the Bacalar lagoon is Ichkabal, a Mayan city older than places like Uxmal or Chichen Itzá. At the time Ichkabal was the most important political center in the region.

The Ichkabal find took place in the mid-1990s and happened by accident. At that time it was decided that this archaeological site would remain closed to the public, since, being so large, it was difficult to take care of.

Ichkabal is even older than the famous Chichen Itza, and even the city of Uxmal. It had its period of greatest social and political development between the years one thousand before Christ and until the year 320 of our era.

It is worth knowing in depth the routes of Bacalar and in addition to swimming in a sailboat, visiting the most relevant Mayan remains in the region. One of them is the one we have mentioned here: Ichkabal, an impressive city of the ancient Maya that completely dominated the social and political landscape of the classic and post-classic periods.

This formidable site of the pre-Hispanic Mayans has impressive structures, with characteristics that have not been found in other cities of Ancient Mexico. To verify the above, it is enough to mention that one of its structures has a height of 40 meters and 200 meters at its base. With these dimensions four times the size of the Temple of Kukulcán in Chichen Itzá, widely celebrated throughout the world.

How to get to the archaeological site of Ichkabal

The archaeological remains of Ichkabal are located in the south of the Quintana Roo territory, more precisely in the municipality of Bacalar, about 40 kilometers from the Laguna de los Siete Colores. It is also valuable to know that it is located about 9 kilometers from Dzibanché, thus integrating a fascinating circuit of Mayan ruins, together with the Kohulich and Kinichna sites.

A curious detail about Ichkabal is that its large buildings were completely covered by the jungle vegetation of the area, an aspect that made the discovery of its architectural treasures quite complicated for many years.

Bacalar, the Laguna de los Siete Colores and Ichkabal

One aspect that reveals the wild purity that characterized Bacalar and its geographical environment is how difficult it was for the explorers to distinguish the architectural formations of the site from the jungle environment where they were built. It was necessary to have the support of numerous experts to clear the area and better analyze the characteristics of the Ichkabal pyramids.

Another fascinating aspect of Ichkabal is that it has a lagoon of approximately 80 by 60 meters, which forms an almost perfect rectangle. To avoid erosion, this lagoon has abundant stones on its shores. In this way it has been preserved since the times when Ichkabal was occupied by the Mayan.

How to get to the Magical Town of Bacalar

Bacalar is located about 40 kilometers from Chetumal, the capital of the state of Quintana Roo. This implies a transfer by car of approximately sixty minutes. From the Cancun air terminal there are 333 kilometers of travel by car.

Therefore, for those who plan to vacation in these directions of the Mexican Caribbean, it is advisable to arrive by plane to the city of Chetumal and from this place board some transport that will take them in a short time to the Magical Town of Bacalar.

Another route widely used by tourists who are out for a tour on the coast of Quintana Roo is to hire a one-day tour from Playa del Carmen or Cancun, although in this case you must be aware that you will have to travel longer.

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