Situated less than 150 km North of Tikal, in the South Central portion of Campeche State, Becan garners little attention from the outside world – overshadowed for the most part by nearby Maya ruins at Calakmul and Xpuhil. In terms of importance, Becan ranks among the best of them. Settled around 500 B.C, the moat ringed complex represented a major trading arm for Calakmul and is alleged to have played a part in the uprising at Palenque in 599. Owing to low levels of tourism and the ruins being markedly well preserved for their age, Becan hasn't been subjected to restoration - making it one of the last, unaltered cultural gems along the Yucatan Peninsula.
Hidden from the eyes of the world for almost five centuries, Becan was one of the most recent Maya rediscoveries. American archaeologists John Dennison and Karl Ruppert happened upon the site whilst exploring nearby Xpuhil in 1936, subsequently naming the site after the Yukatec “Becan” (“ravine surrounded by water”.) A stark contrast to the walled realms of Chicanna and Calakmul, Ruppert and Dennison initially believed the site to be a Mayan fortress prior to further archaeological excavations.
Built in the Rio Bec style synonymous with Maya military strongholds, the limestone pyramids at Becan are almost completely unique. Many take on cylindrical form, replete with narrow false stairwells; misleading tunnels and a multitude of dead end niches to throw enemies off guard. Unsurprisingly, Becan's structures retain much of the elaborate stone masonry attributed to the Maya, including the characteristic carved interpretations of the Sun God, Kinich Ahau. A large, three headed mask dedicated to his honor still exists within Temple 'X'; its fragile paintwork still remarkably intact. Temple 'X' is a stunning feat of Maya engineering; the approach to the temple carved from a single limestone obelisk, resembling the God of The Wind. Visitors may enter the dank realms of the temple via his mouth and although little light floods the interlinking chambers, many petroglyphs can still be made out.
Becan's largest structures occupy the North West quadrant of Central Plaza – Structure IX and VIII. At 97 feet, Structure IX towers above the entire complex; its summit providing spectacular panoramas across to Campeche and Calakmul. Both pyramids would have been used primarily for ceremonial rites, however niche carvings of shields and the God of War suggest these fortress-like monsters may also have been used as look out towers. If you have the energy to climb either monolith, you're guaranteed one of the best picnic spots in Mexico!