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

plaza merwin                                     steve mellard

acropolis                                                             by hjpd

temple of the masks detail                   victorgrigas

KOHUNLICH

temple of the stela                                     by hjpd

ball court                                                steve mellard

site plan                                                     inah

the stands                                           victorgrigas

temple of the masks                               steve mellard

overview                         google earth

north west group                                      by hjpd

KOHUNLICH  Quintana Roo (Yucatan), Mexico

 DESCRIPTION
This is a large site encompassing over twenty acres spread out on trails through the sub-tropical rainforest. The core area is much smaller, and easy to explore. While the main attractions are the large Sun God masks, the site has many interesting structures to explore. 

The site dates from the Pre Classic (300B.C.-300 A.D) through its peak in the Late Classic (600-900 A.D), and was abandoned around 1100 A.D. Plan to spend at least a half day here. It is located about forty 45 miles/72 kms west of Chetumal off Highway 186, south of the small town of Francisco Villa.  

HOURS: 8 A.M-5 P.M.
ENTRANCE FEE: U.S. $4.50/65 Pesos. Inquire about video camera fee.
GUIDES: Inquire at visitor kiosk. Guides can be obtained in Chetumal
SERVICES: Bathrooms
ON-SITE MUSEUM: No
ACCOMMODATIONS: Lodging can be found at Chetumal, the state capitol.

GPS: 18d 25' 81" N, 88d 47' 25" W
MISC: 

HISTORY AND EXPLORATION
The earliest settlement activity dates to the pre Classic (300 B.C.-300 A.D.) attested to by recovered pottery shards. During the Early Classic (300-600 A.D) permanent building structure began and reached its height in the Late Classic (600-900 A.D.).   Excavations reveal strong ties to the Peten region in Guatemala, and later with the Rio Bec region farther to the west. 

The site was first reported on by Raymond Merwin in the early 1900’s. The next explorations did not take place until the 1960’s when excavation and consolidation of the site commenced. 

STRUCTURES
 Kohunlich is best known for the Temple of the Masks. This very impressive Early Classic (350-600 A.D) structure, built in the Peten style of Guatemala, stands about 30 feet/10 meters in height. There is a central stairway that is flanked by huge, beautiful stucco masks of the Sun God Kin’ich Ahau, each over 6 feet/2 meters tall. Six of the original eight masks can still be viewed. These unique portraits also appear on the main pyramid at the site of Acanceh 170 miles/272 kms to the north, and at Cerros in Belize, in addition to a number of other sites. The Temple of the Masks was built over during the Late Classic (600-900 A.D) which helped to preserve the underlying structure now visible. 

The site is entered from the north. The first group of structures seen is called the North West Palace Complex built around a small courtyard, a mainly residential area for higher ranking nobles. The plaza is fronted on the east side by the Acropolis.


The Acropolis is built atop a large platform. Its final construction phase is from the Late Classic and exhibits a Rio Beck style of architecture. A broad stairway leads down to the plaza. It reaches a height of about 30 feet/10 meters. 


South of the North West Palace complex is a group of structures around a large plaza, Plaza of the Stelae. The most notable here being the Palace of the Stelae (carved stone slab monument) which has a number of these stelae mounted on a broad stairway. At the top is a multi-roomed, roofed structure. On the east side of the plaza is located the Temple of the King.

  Plaza Merwin is located further south below the Plaza of the Stelae. On the west side of the plaza is a low rise ball court with walls sloping away from the playing field. In the center is a low square platform. To the west is the building of the Columns, and to the south is the building of the Eleven Doors. The north side is completed by a low structure known as The Stands.

Further south along the dense, tree shaded paths are two other large complexes, the Pixa’an Group and the 27 Steps Group. Both of these are considered to be elite residential areas containing palaces and other similar type structures. A number of high ranking burials have been located here. 

A drainage system has been identified that directed water to a man-made reservoir called an aguada. There are over two hundred mounds located throughout the archaeological zone. Most of these have yet to be excavated. ​