Having previously been somewhat neglected by archaeologists, investigation of Kabah resumed in 1990. A visit to the site is highly recommended, situated as it is right beside the Mérida-Campeche road just 20km/12.4mi south of Uxmal. An additional attraction is that, since 1993, the 1000 ha (2470 acre) site has been a designated conservation area (Parque Estatal). Although the buildings so far excavated at Kabah are in the traditional Puuc style, they have revealed unusual features which are attributed to Chenes influence.

Palace of the Masks

In the southern part of the site, east of the road, lies the Palace of the Masks (Templo de las Máscaras, or codz-poop, "rolled-up mat"). The Maya name comes from the trunk-like nose of the rain-god Chac, resembling a rolled-up mat, here used as a staircase.
The Temple, 45 m (150 ft) long and 6 m (20 ft) high, stands on a low platform, the front of which is decorated with a horizontal row of stylised masks. The palace is unique in Puuc architecture in having the façade as well as the main structure covered with decoration - a feature attributed to the influence of the Chenes style. Above a richly ornamented sill is a continuous row of masks with huge trunk-like noses now mostly broken off; above this can be seen a cornice decorated with geometrical patterns, and above this again are three further continuous rows of Chac masks. Little is left of the roof-comb, once 3 m (10 ft) high, with its rectangular apertures. Bizarre and overloaded with decoration as the façade may appear, with more than 250 masks, the technical mastery which it displays is no less astonishing.


A little way north of the Palace of the Masks stands the Teocalli, or Palace (Palacio). This two-storey building, the lower storey of which is destroyed, shows a plain and unadorned style of architecture which is in striking contrast to the over-decorated façade of the Codz-poop. The decoration here consists mainly of panels of close-set columns between two projecting mouldings.

Temple of the Columns

Near the Teocalli stands the much-ruined Temple of the Columns (Templo de las Columnas), which shows some affinity to the Governor's Palace at Uxmal.

Arch of Kabah

West of the road stands the fine Arch of Kabah (Arco de Kabah), a notable example of the corbelled or "false" arch so typical of Maya architecture, formed by allowing each successive course of stone on either side of the opening to project over the one below until they meet at the top. This undecorated arch was presumably the entrance to the main cult centre, and there was probably a sacbé ("white road") leading through the arch to Uxmal. These Maya ceremonial highways, constructed of limestone with a cement surface, stood between 0.50m (1.5ft) and 2.50 m (8 ft) above the ground and were an average of 4.50 m (15 ft) wide.
In the western part of Kabah will be found a largely unexcavated area containing the Great Temple (Gran Teocalli), the Western Quadrangle (Cuadrángulo del Oeste) and the Temple of the Lintels (Templo de los Dinteles).


Near Santa Elena, some 5km/3mi north of Kabah, lies the small archaeological site of Mul-chic. The largest building here is the restored six-storey Pyramid with steps on the outside, which was built over a temple with a vaulted roof and roof-comb. The wall-paintings discovered inside are now scarcely visible.
Kabah - Site map Kabah Map
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