EL MECO

platform located on private property           steve mellard

el castillo   plaza A                                     steve mellard.

site plan                                                  steve mellard

structure 11 plaza B                          steve mellard

el castillo rear view                         steve mellard

​​​​​welcome to the mayan ruins website .

plaza C  palace                              steve mellard

plaza A east                                                steve mellard

structure 8 plaza B                                steve mellard

east view to isla mujeres              mauro i bareag.

serpent heads ala chichen itza                steve mellard

EL MECO- Quintana Roo (Yucatan), Mexico

 DESCRIPTION
This small site is located on the northern outskirts of the city of Cancun on the coastal road to Punta Sam. It is very well maintained by the local INAH representative, Jesus. There are numerous shade trees, birds and flowering plants. It is very easy to reach by car, taxi, or minivan as it is only 4 miles/6 kms from the city center. It has the tallest pyramid on the northeast Yucatan Peninsula. 

This site is built on the coast and is divided by a public roadway. The coastal portion is closed to visitors. There is a central pyramid surrounded by raised platforms some of which contain partial structures. There are three other small complexes that complete the site, one of which has a wall with faintly painted designs. There is also an unrestored sacbe (white stone causeway) which leads in from the southwest. A medium sized platform is located outside the park to the north on private property. This is a very pleasing compact site.

HOURS: 8 A.M-5 P.M.
ENTRANCE FEE: U.S. $3.00/54 Pesos
GUIDES:  Spanish language only
SERVICES: Restrooms, beverages, pamphlets
ON-SITE MUSEUM: No
ACCOMMODATIONS: The site is located in Cancun.
GPS: 21d 12' 38" N, 86d 48' 05" W
MISC: 

HISTORY AND EXPLORATION
El Meco, whose ancient name may have been Yax Kin (First Sun), had its beginnings in the Early Classic (300-600 A.D.) as a small fishing village. It reached its prominence in the Post Classic (1200-1450 A.D.) as the main embarkation point for pilgrims traveling to the sacred island shrines of Isla Mujeres just off the coast.  It was also an important site for traders working their way around the Yucatan Peninsula by canoe. There are no known stelae recovered from the site that would identify its rulers. The last architectural phase of the main pyramid shows similarities to those at Chichen Itza. 

El Meco was first reported on by Augustus Le Plongeon in 1887, followed by the renowned explorer and photographer Teobert Maler in 1891. The site has been recently restored and opened to visitors.  

STRUCTURES

The site comprises three plaza groups. The architecture is in the “East Coast” style as exemplified at the well-known site of Tulum. Plaza A is held down on the west side by the main pyramid of the site, El Castillo, which has some similarities to its much bigger cousin at Chichen Itza. This structure consists of 3 building phases, one over the other as was common practice among the Maya. It stands about 37 feet/12 meters in height. It is crowned by a small temple, and commands a beautiful view of Isla Mujeres. There are two small structures at either side of the base that face east and front the main plaza. There is a broad, balustrade stairway that has two eroded serpent heads at the base, much like at Chichen.

 An interesting note here is that on the backside of the pyramid one can see a portion of an older buried structure. The difference in workmanship is quite evident. The older structure has smooth finished uniform stone block with rounded edges at the corners where the sides meet. Very nice quality workmanship. The final construction phase consists of roughly cut stone of dissimilar size and shape. It was finished off with a thick coating of stucco to hide the imperfections. One could probably draw an analogy to some of todays construction techniques. On the backside of the pyramid is an inner temple entryway, half-way up and now sealed off, that contains a scarce original wood lintel beam.

In the center of the plaza is a small ritual platform. On the sides surrounding the plaza are other structures rising on platforms in a various state of restoration, the southeast structure being the more impressive. These are thought to have been of a civic or ceremonial nature.

Behind the pyramid is Plaza C. The main structure here is a long platform with numerous columns that open up into a single chamber. There are decorative elements that still retain the original stucco on portions of a wall. Stone benches line the west wall. This may have been an elite residential palace. A small one-room structure on a raised platform forms the north side of the plaza.

Plaza B begins on the south side of the main pyramid. It is bordered by Structures 8, 9, 10, and 11. Structure 11 is situated on a low “L” shaped platform shared with Structure 10. An excavated pottery offering was recently discovered beneath a well-preserved stucco floor. Structure 10 contains two rooms with a columned entrance on the west side of the plaza. A small central altar/platform exists in the center of the plaza. An unrestored structure fronts the south side of the plaza.


 The main structure of Plaza B is Structure 8. This is a long, low platform that contains the remains of columns and walls. This may have been a market or administrative center, and faces west into the plaza. At the end is a standing portion of a vaulted chamber that has traces of what once must have been a beautiful mural. Only the lower border is faintly visible. There are a few other minor platform structures that are found within this small site, along with some interesting decorative architectural elements propped up against the walls. A very nice way to spend a morning or afternoon.