Chacchoben is located just south of the Riviera Maya, and within an hour’s drive from Costa Maya. Its name means "The Place of Red Corn," which is derived from a nearby village, its original name is not known.
Evidence suggests that Chacchoben was a settlement as far back as 1000 BC although it is believed that the site was abandoned and reoccupied a number of times and it is known that most of the structure at the site were modified or restored a number of times most notably from 300 – 360 AD although the buildings in the main groups which can be seen today date from 700 AD.
Following the collapse of the Maya civilization, Chacchoben, like many other sites in the region, was still used as a ceremonial centre and Archaeological evidence suggests and that a number of rituals took place at the abandoned temples.
During the Caste War of Yucatán (1847–1901) the site was abandoned when many of the Maya moved away due to the conflict and the atrocities that were being committed, it was then that Chacchoben was claimed by the jungle.
It was to remain lost until 1942 when land around it became the home for a local farmer and the ruins were once again discovered. Exploration of the site started in 1972 when the site was mapped and registered with the Mexican government.
Restoration on Chacchoben was started in 1994 under the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the site was opened to the public in October 2002.
The first main structure on entry to the site is Temple 24 found in Plaza B, this structure is impressive with its multi levels and stairway on each side. From there it is a short walk past the Gran Plaza to the most impressive and tallest temple known as Temple 1 which is located in the Gran Basamento. This is accessed via a small plaza which contains a broken stele and a stair case leading up from it. At the top of the stairs is another pyramid temple across from which is Temple 1.
A short walk from there is the Plaza Las Vias with its residential and administrative low rise buildings.
Scattered across the site are the remains of buildings still to be excavated and are noticeable as tree covered mounds.
Although the surrounding area has been cleared for farming Chacchoben itself has retained many of its trees including large mahogany trees and cohune palms, strangler figs, and banyan trees which are scattered across the site providing it with a relaxing atmosphere.
To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.
Copyright - All Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain