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The first place to stop when you visit Yucatan ruins.

The first place to stop when you visit Yucatan ruins The ancient ruins of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are becoming better than ever to visit. At major archeological complexes, a state-funded program is vastly improving visitor facilities, which were nearly nonexistent before.

Work is completed at Chichen Itza, which is about halfway between the city of Merida and Cancun-area resorts; this vast Mayan site rose to glory between A.D. 550 and 900. Facilities are underway at Uxmal, south of Merida; famous to the tallest pyramid yet excavated, this great city thrived from 600 to 900.

Visitor centers are planned at four more sites: Labna, Kabah, and Sayil--all near Uxmal--and at Dzibilchaltun, north of Merida.

At Chichen Itza, the temptationis to rush past the visitor center to explore restored pyramids, ball courts, marketplaces, and sacrificial platforms. Don't. The archeological exhibits will truly enrich your visit.

Scale models give an introductory overview. New galleries allow, for the first time, appropriate display of artifacts found at the ruins. And don't miss photographs of the 19th-centry explorers who reclaimed the ancient cities from jungle.

Before, refreshment consisted of bottled soft drinks proffered from sweating ice boxes. Now, an air-conditioned cafe serves light meals. A well-stocked shop sells guidebooks and other material. A second shop sells a particularly good selection of contemporary jewelry made in the silver center of Taxco. You'll also find a money exchange, rest rooms, and telephones. You can arrange for guied tours in English, and buy tickets for the evening's sound and light show (at 9, in English; $1.50).

Shaded market stalls sell handicrafts of sanctioned quality.

Hours are 8 to 5 daily; entry is $1.50, free on Sunays and holidays.

For more on Yucatan's ruins, see the November 1985 issue of Sunset.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:the visitor center
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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