We arrived in the morning and there is a strange kind of quiet in the plaza. The sounds of the modern world do not dwell here. The sun is shining and beating down on the unprepared in the quiet of the morning. Even this far in from the coast you can still taste the salt in the air. That was my first impressions of Edzná.
The site of Edzná is not like Chichén Itza or Palenque with crowds of tourists and venders filling the walkways. It is a site that is sees fewer tourists. That morning it was occupied by no more than six others when we arrived. You can hear the birds in the trees and the breeze of the wind. The elevated roads or “sacbe” that lead into the central plaza are empty of traffic. Except for the occasional squirrel or iguana who now make this their home.
Edzná is a large ancient Maya city in the Mexican state of Campeche, about 50 km south of Campeche City. Edzná means “House of Itzás”, which tells us that Edzná was founded by the family that later established the ancient city of Chichén Itzá. While the site of Edzná feels vast with its wide-open spaces it is quite a bit smaller than some. It was 25 km² at its height with a population of 25,000 roughly half the size of Cobá. The Maya city was occupied from the Middle Classic to the Late Classic period (500 to 900 CE), but not completely abandoned until the 1400s. Many archaeologists today are still unsure as to why they left.
The Stelas placed at the front of the site reveal some of the history of Edzná. The signage on these stelas are provided by INAH but do not include the English translation, so having a friend that can read Spanish or great cell service might be required. The signs for the buildings do have an English translation however, so even if you don’t know Spanish or Maya you‘ll still be okay.
The types of architecture used at this site varied over the centuries, for the Maya built upon what was already made from the previous generation. The Petén, Chenes, Puuc and Post Classic styles can be seen here but as with many ancient sites it also displays features that are unique to itself. Atop the Gran Acropolis is the Cinco Pisos an enormous five story temple that has a wind comb and two other large range buildings called the Temple of the North and the Temple of the Moon on each side creating a wide plaza. Cinco Pisos is on the eastern side of the Acropolis and the first thing you see when you reach the top of the stairs.
There are many more things to see at Edzná and this is a site where you won’t be rushed by the crowds. The rich Mesoamerican history of this site connects the past to the present and leaves mysteries for future generations to solve.