Governors, Turtles, and Tourists

A segment of a panorama from the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal — covering the Governor’s Palace (left) and the House of the Turtles (right), along with a few scattered tourists:

Governors, Turtles, and Tourists

I initially didn’t expect this image to be of much account. It’s part of a panorama I made for later reference, one of many I made at a number of sites on my last trip to the Yucatán, primarily so I can double-check the quality of the maps I draw for my eBooks.

But in the process, I discovered that a modern iPhone (!) can make surprisingly good panoramas.

Magically purple

This past autumn, when I returned to the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, I had the opportunity to spend a night in a nearby hotel and so could watch the evening light show at the ruins.  The main action takes place in the Nunnery Quadrangle, but as you can see here, the Pyramid of the Magician isn’t left out of the fun.

Magically purple

Granted, the colors can get a bit… garish… but the show as a whole is pretty impressive.  And if you know a little Spanish, you get to hear a concise history of the site while watching the colored lights splashing on various buildings.

In our case, as happens pretty regularly (I’m told), we also got drenched right after the part of the show in which recorded voices (portraying plaintive inhabitants during the site’s historic drought) chant the name of the Maya rain god Chaac.  Interesting coincidence, that…

The “Nunnery Quadrangle”

A panorama from the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, Mexico:

The

This shot is looking roughly southeast across the quadrangle — from the top steps of the quadrangle’s North Building. On the horizon, you can see the Governor’s Palace and the Great Pyramid.

Palace of the Governors

Likely the best surviving example of Puuc-style architecture, at the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, Mexico:

Palace of the Governors

Many Maya structures still bear the nicknames given whimsically to them by their re-discoverers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Whether by luck or prescience, the name of this structure fits it surprisingly well — archaeological work here indicates that it was once used by the rulers of Uxmal in its heyday.

Snakes and people

Mosaic details in the Nunnery quadrangle at the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal in Yucatán, Mexico:

Snakes and people

Uxmal is justly known for its great mosaic stonework — amazing to think that this was all carved with stone tools (obsidian, to be specific).

Pyramid of the Magician

The first thing you see once you’re in the gate at the Maya ruins of Uxmal, Mexico:

Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal

It’s an impressive structure — although a bit odd for photography. You get a better overall vista from the east side, but the architectural details are better on the west side.

Some years back, you could climb the stairs and either go all the way to the top, or pass through the tunnel partway up (giving you access to older temples now buried in the body of the pyramid). But sadly you can’t climb this structure any more — at least you can get good shots of most of it from the ground. This is actually stitched from two wide-angle shots, with colors tuned up a bit in Topaz Adjust.

The Great Pyramid, Uxmal

Definitely one of the steeper pyramids we saw on our 2011 trip, in the Terminal Classic Puuc site of Uxmal:

The Great Pyramid, Uxmal

As you might be able to tell, kids had no problems with these steps — the bigger ones were racing each other to the top! Regular adults have to do the usual angle-walk up the steps.

You might also notice that this is the only one of the pyramid’s four faces that has been restored. Aside from saving money up front (restoration isn’t cheap), this saves money over the long run too — since once you restore something, you have to maintain it. Restoration also (in a way) destroys — since you can never be 100% sure you’re restoring something exactly the way it once was. So 3/4 of this structure is being saved for future generations of researchers to study and (maybe) restore at a later date.