Uxmal (pronounced “Oosh-mahl”) means “built three times” in an archaic Mayan language. Located 48 miles (78 kilometers) south of the city of Merida in Yucatan, Uxmal contains Puuc Mayan structures. Uxmal is one of the most beautiful and elegant Mayan cities and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. Since the city was well built and is one of the most preserved sites, visitors can see a good example of a complete, ancient ceremonial center.
Founded around 500 AD, this Mayan city is the source of various legends, one being about its largest pyramid, El Adivino, the Pyramid of the Magician; it is the central and tallest structure in Uxmal with a median height of 115 feet (35 meters). Due to the pyramid’s unusual, elliptical shape, legend says it was built in one night by a magical dwarf raised by an older woman who is sometimes referred to as a witch.
For a while, Uxmal was one of the most powerful Mayan sites in western Yucatan and was in alliance with Chichen Itza for a period of time, dominating the northern Mayan region. Sometime after 1200 AD, after the fall of Chichen Itza, the Uxmal population went into decline. There is evidence to support that Uxmal was still an important site with inhabitants well into the 1550s, after the Spanish conquest of Yucatan.