How to get thereBy bus (only as far as the Puuc Road turn-off) or by car from Mérida southwards on the MEX 261 as far as Kabah (about 100km/62mi), then another 5km/3mi on the same road until a turning to the left leads after 4km/2.5mi to Sayil.The archaeological site of Sayil, with Xlapak and Labná, forms a group of Maya centres, all with buildings in the pure Puuc style, which have been left largely unexplored and unvisited, despite the existence of a new road now for a number of years which has made them much more accessible.As no definite dating has been possible in Sayil (Maya: "ants' place") up to now, people have had to determine the age of the site by the style of its buildings. This has led experts to claim that the two main buildings date from the 9th c. AD, i.e. the Maya Late Classic period. Clearly all building activity must have ceased by the year 1000.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00
Dominating the site is the partially restored Palace (Palacio), with its several storeys of terracing, which represents one of the most perfect of all architectural creations in the Mayas' Classical Puuc style. Every floor of the 80 3 40 m (260 3 130 ft) building is set back slightly from the one immediately below with the result that the roof of the lower storey is also part of the balcony of the upper storey. This means that the third storey of this gradually tapering building is the highest one and on the south side there is an enormous flight of steps leading up to it.The most interesting part of the building is the west section of the middle storey, which has two doors and four openings, each of which has a pair of stone pillars crowned by a square capital. In between these, there are linked columns, modelled on the wooden posts of the Maya huts, which contribute to the harmonious overall impression. In the centre of the frieze running along the top, there is an enormous mask of the rain-god Chac, which is flanked by ornamental glyphs. The frieze also contains tiny rounded columns in rows and, over the doors, the stylised motif of "the falling god" with open snakes' mouths turned away on either side.At the north-west corner of the palace there was once a large "chultún" or cistern.
Apart from the remains of the Ball Court (Juego de Pelota) and a small temple, the other thing to see at Sayil is the famous temple, now heavily weathered, known as the Mirador. At one time it was linked to the palace by a sacbé (ceremonial road). The temple rests on a platform and is notable for the crest of its roof, which was probably originally decorated with stucco ornaments, something quite unusual in the Puuc region as limestone was generally used here for mosaic work.A path some 100 m (330 ft) in length leads from this building to a large stela, something rather strange for the Mayas, which has a sculpted figure with an exaggerated phallus.
Following the road eastwards in the direction of Labná for about 6km/4mi, the excavation site of Xlapak is reached. The most important of the buildings which have been restored here is also called the Palace (Palacio) and it is in the characteristic Puuc style. Above the simple ground-level section of the main façade an interesting frieze can be seen underneath a ledge which is decorated with pillared embellishments. Over the middle of the three doors there is a tower-like section, which displays a complicated mask-like ornamentation. On either side there are panels with geometric adornments which turn into a broad ledge further up. The corners, which have been preserved, are formed by sections composed of elaborate Chac masks overlapping one another.