Ichkabal Archeological Site

Ichkabal stands as the most imposing archeological site on the Yucatán Peninsula, larger than Chichén Itzá and older than Calakmul.


Covering an area of over 23 square miles, Ichkabal comprises several monumental settlements, with the primary site featuring a complex ceremonial center of five buildings. It also boasts a base similar to the Pyramid of the Sun, measuring 820 feet on each side and soaring to a height of 131 feet.

Ichkabal: ‘Among Lowlands’

Situated 25 miles west of the Bacalar lagoon lies Ichkabal, an architectural wonder of the Maya culture in Quintana Roo. It dates back 2,400 years. Its peak was during the 3rd to 7th centuries A.D., when it served as a dominant center linking the Chiapas and Campeche Mayan jungle with Guatemala’s Petén and the eastern Yucatán Peninsula until the 10th century, throughout the Classic period.

The name’s meaning, ‘among lowlands,’ comes from the land’s propensity to flood during the rainy season. It is connected to Dzibanché, another significant Maya city just 6 miles southwest, through a network of roads known as “sacbe’ob.”

Five Structures

In the 1930s, archeologist César Lizardi Ramos initiated exploration in the region. Subsequently, Javier López Camacho continued to research this archeological area, also known as Las Higueras.

However, it wasn’t until 2009 when four significant mounds encompassing Buildings 1, 4, and 5, alongside the structure ensemble known as the “five siblings,” were discovered.

Interesting Facts:

  • The central complex spans an area of 17 acres, larger than Mexico City’s Zócalo.
  • Two buildings feature masks reaching up to 16 feet in height.
  • The pyramidal base of the largest building measures 820 feet and reaches a height of 131 feet.

Cocodrilos Water Reserve

Among the ruins is this ancient water reservoir built by the Maya. It is a rectangle that measures 262 by 197 feet and is up to 16 feet deep. Its carved walls aimed to prevent erosion, aiding in a better understanding of Maya agricultural practices.

A Train Journey to Ichkabal

Currently closed to the public, the Ichkabal archeological site is set to reopen in August 2024. It stands as a prominent attraction for travelers, particularly those from the vicinity and arriving aboard the Tren Maya, eager to explore this remarkable piece of civilization’s history.


Ichkabal, Quintana Roo, México

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