How to get thereBy bus from Mérida; by car on the MEX 261: about 5km/3mi south of Kabah a new road leads to Labná via Sayil (15km/9.3mi).Labná - buried, like the neighbouring sites of Sayil and Xlapak, amid dense tropical vegetation - is an important Maya centre, the full extent of which has not yet been explored. It offers classical examples of the Puuc architectural style.HistoryAs with Sayil and Xlapak, little is known of the history of this interesting site. The few datings that have been established indicate that the principal structures at Labná ("broken houses" in the Maya tongue) were built in the 9th c. ad, in the Maya Late Classic period. Here, as at most Maya sites, we owe the first account of the remains to John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, who visited Labná in the mid 19th c. The large numbers of chultunes (cisterns), over sixty of which were found, suggest that the town had a considerable population.In recent years the Carnegie Institute and various Mexican institutions have done excellent restoration work at Labná as well as the neighbouring sites of Sayil and Xlapak.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00
The group of structures in the northern part of the site known as the Palace (Palacio) is one of the largest temple precincts in Puuc territory. The group, haphazard and asymmetrical in layout, has a total length of almost 135 m (445 ft) east to west and stands on a terrace 167 m (550 ft) long. In front of it lies a huge plaza, crossed by the remains of a sacbee (ceremonial way). The façade of the eastern range is decorated with groups of three clustered columns, bands of geometrical ornamentation and nose masks. At the south-east corner, above a cluster of three columns, can be seen an unusual Chac mask with a snake's jaws, wide open, disgorging a human head. The trunk-like nose is curled up over the forehead. Here one of the two "year glyphs" so far recorded at Labná was found.The façades of the other parts of the palace are, with one or two exceptions, in simpler form. On the upper level is a rainwater-collecting basin, linked with a chultun (cistern) in front of the group.
130 m (140 yd) south-east of the palace stands the East Building. Although also palace-like in construction it is decorated in simpler fashion. L-shaped and containing several rooms, it stands on a terrace. The only definite ornamentaion is the row of small pillars with a simple frieze on the upper façade.
Arch of Labná
The best-known feature of the site is the magnificent Arch of Labná (Arco de Labná), south-west of the Mirador.Since the Mayas were ignorant of the true arch they used the corbelled or "false arch" formed by the overlapping of successive courses of stone and topped by a cover-slab. The richly decorated Arch of Labná, which is 3 m (10 ft) deep and has an interior height of 5 m (16 ft), is flanked by two small chambers with entrances on the north-west side. The frieze along the front of the arch, with mosaic patterns reminiscent of those at Uxmal, is framed by projecting sills. Above the entrances to the two lateral chambers are representations in high relief of two typical Maya huts, with thatched roofs in feather patterns; originally there were probably figures at the doors of the huts. On the stepped roof of the higher middle section the remains of the open roof-comb can still be seen.The rear of the arch is much plainer. Above a sill with similar decoration to that on the front of the arch is a striking frieze with a meander pattern against a background of clustered columns.
The southern group of structures is dominated by a pyramid (not yet properly restored) topped by a temple known as the Mirador ("Lookout"). Above the two restored platforms and the temple rears the imposing roof-comb, like a free-standing façade. We know from Stephen's account that it was originally decorated with a large seated figure in brightly painted stucco. The projecting stones on the front of the roof-comb provide a base for the stucco. The only surviving remnant of decoration on the temple is the lower half of a figure at the south-west corner of the building.