The City of Uxmal

The city of Uxmal is located in the hilly Puuc region of the Yucatan peninsula. It was first established around 500 C.E. and controlled the entire area from roughly 850 to 950 CE.

Today, the ruins of the city feature ornately crafted artwork, sacbes (or roads), and cisterns for holding water. The most notable structures at the site include The House of the Dwarf and the Governors Palace . This is where famed explorers John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood stayed during their exploration of the great city.

Stephens and Catherwood traveled to the ruins at Uxmal in the 1830s. As stated by Stephens, “The ruins of Uxmal presented themselves to me as a home...I had found the wrecks of cities scattered more numerously than I expected, but they were all so shattered that no voice of instruction issued from them; here they still stood, tottering and crumbling, but living memorials, more worthy than ever of investigation and study...perhaps the only existing vestiges that could transmit to posterity the image of an American city” (John Llyod Stephens, from Incidents of Travel in Yucatan).

Frederick Catherwood used a device called a lithograph to make sketches of many great sites at Uxmal, including the House of Governors and the Pyramid of the Dwarf. The many sketches he made while at Uxmal helped provide evidence that the ancient Maya were a highly evolved civilization.