Governor's Palace

Governor's Palace (Palacio del Gobernador)

The Governor's Palace is considered by some to be the finest example of pre-Hispanic architecture in the western hemisphere. The building is set on a large platform on a terrace. It is 98m (322 feet) long, 12 m (39 feet) across and 8 m (26 feet) high. There is a central structure with two wings flanking two corbelled vaulted corridors which were later closed off by cross walls. This was one of the last buildings to be built at Uxmal and has been dated at 900-915 A.D. or 1000-1050 A.D.

The building has an undecorated facade on the lower section with eleven entrances plus an entrance on each end. These entrances grant access to 24 chambers, all having corbelled vaulting ceilings. Above the central cornice is a frieze 3 m (10 feet) high. The upper part of this frieze consists of an almost continuous row of Chac masks, with a profusion of geometric forms, Maya huts and stylized serpents. The lower part has a series of S -shaped ornaments forming a serpent which originally ran around the entire building. The figure with a headress of quetzel feathers above the central entrance may represent a ruler of Uxmal. At the building corners are found sets of stacked Chac masks with the characteristic curved snouts.

It is estimated that 20,000 pieces of dressed stone, each weighing between 20 and 30 kg (45 to 75 lbs.) were used to make this enormous mosaic.

Before the palace is an altar upon which is a sculpture of pair of jaguars, joined at the back. This piece, cut from a single block of stone, may have been a throne.

Looking Back toward El Advino

Because the Governor's Palace was built on a natural rise, you can look back toward the northeast to see El Adivino rising above the trees and also see the Nunnery Quadrangle.

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom