El Rey

Mayan Archaeology > Quintana Roo > Quintana Roo

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Structures and murals one step away from the sea

Given the lack of glyphic inscription, the site’s original name is unknown, and it was only recently named “El Rey” because of the discovery of a sculpture of a human face crowned with an elaborate headdress, which probably represents a high-ranking person. Today, this piece is safely guarded and on display at the Archaeological Museum of Cancún.

The site seems to have been founded in 300 B.C. with the establishment of a small group of people who built wooden houses with palm roofing over stone platforms. After some research, it can be assumed that, between 200 and 1200 A.D., its inhabitants were primarily dedicated to fishing and salt mining for personal consumption or possibly to pay regional centers of power by selling products to the great population cores in the peninsula. El Rey became an important site quite late, approximately from 1300 to 1550 A.D., when important groups came to settle in the coasts of the modern state of Quintana Roo.

El Rey is the most important archaeological zone in Cancún. It consists of 47 structures that preserve remnants of a mural painting with representations of Mayan deities and symbols. These buildings served as temples and residences for high status people.

The most important building is Structure 2, a pyramid base of great height and the only one with a temple. Here, the burial of a person with certain importance was discovered, which was accompanied by ceramic, copper, jade, seashell, and bone objects.

Structures I and 4 are huge palaces made up of large galleries with columns that held the flat roof; it is possible that administrative functions took place here.

This area is also refuge to a great number of birds and reptiles, which makes it so appealing.

Monday through Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00
42 pesos
How to arrive

It is located 10 km from the convention center of the city of Cancún, on kilometer 18 of Kukulcán Boulevard.


Map and address

Km 18 of Kukulkan Boulevard, king’s turn, Zip Code: 77500, Cancún.