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The Temple of the Turtles in Uxmal is one of the simplest decorated temples in the city, named because of the carefully carved turtle statues that adorn its cornice on the four sides of the frieze of the building.
This Temple was built in the late phase of the flourishing Puuc style or late Uxmal period between the years 800 and 900 and it is thought that it was part of the first substructure of the Governor’s Palace.
The decoration is sober and its smooth interior walls contrast with the columns that are in the upper facade, where along the cornice there are sculptures of turtles, which acquire great importance due to their association with the rain and with the earth. Surely the Temple of the Turtles in Uxmal was dedicated to the aquatic cult.
Physical description of the Temple of the Turtles in Uxmal
The Temple of the Turtles in Uxmal measures 30 meters from east to west and 11 from south to north, with an approximate height of seven meters. It contains three central chambers crossed by corridors with accesses on the north and south fronts; some of the rooms have low stools that served to sit. In addition, it has two side chambers facing east and west.
The upper part of the façade is decorated with elongated thin columns, moldings and the cornice with turtle sculptures, typical arrangements of the late phase of the Puuc style.