Uxmal, Photo from top of Temple of the Magician showing massive building platforms

Views from atop the Pyramid of the Magician

It is astonishing to see the mass and scale of the platforms these building rest upon.

This view shows the Governor's Palace on the left, the Grand Pyramid in the middle with the House of the Turtles in front and the South Temple/Pigeon Group in the distance behind and to the left, and finally the lacy roof comb of the House of the Birds showing to the right.

Note the stupendous size of the larger platform that the platforms for the individual buildings rest upon. Ground level is marked by the small tops of the ballcourt alley tops visible on the far right of the photo.

"As monumental form, architecture commemorates valuable experiences by distinguishing one space from another in a durable way. In American antiquity, the rooms are at all times less important than the masses. The design of a building was secured far less by the enclosure of rooms in an articulated envelope than by the ponderous combination of vast masses, solid throughout, sculpturally related to one another, and structurally dependent upon simple static accumulations of building material."

George Kubler, Studies in Ancient American & European Art, p. 281, 248


North portion of Nunnery Quadrangle viewed from top of Pyramid of the Magician

Looking down on the Nunnery Quadrangle from the top of the Pyramid of the Magician. The South Building is on the left, the West Building is at the top, and the East Building is midground.

The arched entry to the House of the Birds is in the extreme left foreground, while the Cemetary Group can be seen to the left in the far distance. Note how the bottom of the West and East Building friezes align with the top of the South Building.

It is interesting to see the two vaulted rooms exposed by the collapse of the end of the South Building. The archaeologist Jeff Kowalski writes about small paintings executed on the capstones of vaults in the South Building, and of ancient graffiti discovered on the vaults themselves. These inscriptions contain Maya longcount dates which are important is dating the construction of the Quadrangle.


South portion of Nunnery Quadrangle viewed from top of Pyramid of the Magician

The North Building and the back of the East Building in the Nunnery Quadrangle are shown, with part of the Northern Long Building in the foreground to the right and a tiny part of the West Building midground on the left.

From this vantage point is is easy to see the harmonious relation of the height of the North Building platform and that of the East Building. The bottom of the medial molding of the East Building is level with the North Building platform, and the top of the East Building is level with the bottom of the medial molding of the North Building.