Labná, once a city of some 1,500 to 2,800 people and inhabited between 750 to 1,000 AD, is located on the Puuc Route south of Uxmal, approximately 122 km south of Mérida. Its name means “old house.” The first explorers to report the existence of this site were John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, who visited this area in 1842. Together with Uxmal, the sites of Labná, Sayil, Kabah and Xlapak were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996.
The relatively small site contains a large two-storey building known as El Palacio, which is 120 m in length. It has 57 bedrooms on its two levels. There is a ceremonial road (sacbé) which extends from the palace to a beautifully decorated and engraved stone arch, El Arco, featured on our cover this month. The arch is a passageway which leads to a small quadrangle called El Mirador, a space which would have been used for grand celebrations. Its façade includes representations of palm houses and stylized serpents.
Yucatan Today visited the TripAdvisor website to get some real input from real people about Labná, and below are some of their comments:
“As this Maya site is spacious and not crowded, we could explore the grounds and its surroundings at leisure.”
“Ruta Puuc is a fascinating experience worth visiting.”
“I enjoyed the more expressive Puuc architecture. The people of the Puuc Hills had a fancier style, spending more time on more elaborate friezes and other detail works that weren’t visible in Chichén Itzá and other sites.”
“Labná isn’t a large site (none of the ones on the Ruta Puuc are), but these temple areas are well worth the visit.”
“We were truly in the back country, driving along some narrow roads with hardly any traffic, with forest encroaching on either side. When we arrived at our first stop, Labná, there was only one other car in the parking lot. We practically had the site to ourselves! Although the archaeological zone is small, we spent around an hour there. There are two palaces, one of them quite impressive, the remains of a “sacbé”, a raised Maya road, and the “Mirador”, a tower atop an un-restored mound. The most famous and beautiful structure is the Arch of Labná, which is adorned with intricate carvings.”
In honor of its warm friendship with Mexico, India unveiled a replica of the Arch at the Garden of Five Senses in New Delhi in September, 2013. The replica constructed by INTACH was made with stone from Rajastan, similar to the stone found in the Puuc region of Yucatán, and worked by expert Indian stonecutters. It is used as a venue for cultural events.
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