Uxbenka Mayan Ruins in Belize
Uxbenka Archaeological Site
Uxbenka may be a difficult name to sound out but it is one of the most interesting archeological sites in southern Belize. First built by the ancient Maya more than 1,500 years ago, Uxbenka was an important ceremonial center at the time when nearby powerful city-states in the area like Nim Li Punit, Lubaantun, Caracol, and Xunantunich battled for domination with Tikal in what is now neighboring Guatemala.
Why You Have to Visit Uxbenka On Your Vacation
Although Uxbenka is small, its compact nature gives visitors a chance to see another side of ancient Maya life beyond gigantic pyramids and vast causeways. Translated from Mayan, Uxbenka means “ancient place” as it has been used for ceremonies for centuries. At Uxbenka, it’s possible to see how the Maya used terracing to tame the jungle wilderness, including an artificial hill that the Maya built for religious ceremonies.
The site is still being excavated but it is possible to explore the main plaza along with a series of smaller squares. Six buildings have been reclaimed so far along with seven carved stelae and 13 uncarved stelae.
Where in Belize Is Uxbenka Located?
Uxbenka is located just outside of Santa Cruz village in Belize’s southern Toledo District.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Uxbenka
Uxbenka is not part of an official park or tourist destination, so it is accessible all year round. That being said, the unexcavated condition of the site can be treacherous to navigate after heavy or extensive rainfall.
Best Way to Get to Uxbenka
Uxbenka is still in the process of being excavated, so it isn’t officially open to visitors. Nonetheless, it is possible to visit this site. The best way is to head to the village of Santa Cruz in Toledo District and then find the water tower. The partially excavated portions of Uxbenka, including seven carved stelae, are just a short distance away.
Best Way to Experience Uxbenka
Uxbenka is probably best for Maya completest who want to see more of what’s out there than the popular tourist destinations of giant pyramids and enormous ball courts found at more well-known Maya sites in Belize. Be prepared to ask villages for directions to the site as it is far off the beaten path, but knowing that you’re seeing an ancient city in its “raw” state can be quite a thrill. The architectural and landscaping prowess of the Maya can be more clearly seen at Uxbenka, giving unique insights into how larger nearby sites were similarly constructed.