Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal

Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal

Legend has it that the Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal (Pirámide del Adivino) was built in a single night. Very unlikely because it consists of 5 structures from different eras, perhaps only the last and smallest structure on top was built in one night and that turned later on turned into the legend. 

Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal viewed from the Nunnery entrance
Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal viewed from the Nunnery entrance

We can say that the general form of the Pyramid of the Magician evokes the configuration of the roof of the Mayan house elaborated with palm. This form is considered with the maximum expression of the cosmos and divinities.

This Pyramid is also called the Pyramid of the Sorcerer or Pyramid of the Dwarf, all of them from the legend that they told an American researcher when he visited Uxmal. The legend tells the story of a dwarf who was the son of a sorceress and who had been born from an egg. This character, with the intention of becoming governor of the city, bet with the governor of the time that he was able to build a pyramid in a single night. The pyramid was built, and the dwarf proclaimed himself governor of the three-times built city of Uxmal.

This is the largest monument in Uxmal that consists of five differentiated structures from different periods. The first and older ones are buried by the newer ones and became accessible until archeologists created their own entrances.

The 4 substructures of the Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal

The Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal began to be built in the sixth century and the last level dates from the tenth century. The existing hieroglyphs have helped the dating of each of the construction periods.

Pyramid of the Magician’s first Temple

It’s located on the bottom platform, practically at ground level. Its decoration is based on columns and Chac masks, with two of them standing above the entrance stand out. In this temple, the sculpture called the Queen of Uxmal was found, which is a serpent head with an open mouth, from which a human being emerges.

Pyramid of the Magician’s second Temple

To build this temple, which is approximately 2/3 of the current height, the first Temple had to be covered and a pyramid built on it. To access it, an opening was made from where the columns that support the roof can be seen.

Pyramid of the Magician’s third Temple

It’s an oratory that was later covered, by another building with a throne in the form of a Chac figurehead.

Pyramid of the Magician’s fourth Temple

It’s the best preserved of all the five temples of the Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal. It has a chamber on the eastern part of the pyramid in the form of a mask of Chac with its mouth as the entrance. It has a very ornate decoration, outside of the usual Puuc style.

Pyramid of the Magician’s fifth Temple

It’s at the top of the pyramid and to access it you have to climb 150 steep steps that are flanked by Chac masks. The decoration of the facades is completely Puuc, smooth low walls, on which a largely decorated frieze is placed, in this case with intertwined snakes and a roof hut.

Physical description of the Pyramid of the Magician

The pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal was made in such a way that the western staircase faces the sun on the summer solstice sunset. It measures around 35 meters in height and has an elliptical plan of 53.5 meters. To date, five construction phases have been detected at different times and with different architectural styles. Among them stands out the west facade that presents a Chenes style.

The building that crowns the upper basement constitutes the last constructive stage that was carried out in the Puuc style. It is a construction with double facades: one that faces west with a central entrance and another that faces east with two entrances. On the east façade, you can still see one of the typical designs of the Puuc style that corresponds to a hut with a palm roof, while in the west facade you can still see panels with geometric designs in the form of staggered rhombuses that represent the earth.

Location of the Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal

The Pyramid of the Magician in Uxmal is the first building you see when you access the archeological site. It’s right next to the Birds Quadrangle.

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