A quick 25-minute trip north of Mérida  on Highway 261 brings you to the important but somewhat underwhelming archaeological site of Dzibilchaltún (dzee-beel-chawl-TOON) (Hwy. 261 Km. 15 turnoff, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, US$5.50). Recognized as the oldest continuously used Maya ceremonial and administrative center on the peninsula, it was inhabited as early as 1000 B.C. through to the arrival of the Spanish.
The intriguing Temple of the Seven Dolls is the only known Maya temple with windows, and its orientation suggests it was used for astronomical observations. The temple is named for a set of small clay figures that were found inside during excavation.
The seven dolls and other artifacts are displayed in the site’s exceptional Museo del Pueblo Maya (8 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sun.), which focuses on the archaeology of Dzibilchatún as well as the area’s cultural and economic development; signage is in Spanish and English.
A 350-meter-long (1,148-foot) ecological path links the museum to the ruins. Along the way, trees and plants are labeled and small palapa-roofed billboards have information on local flora and fauna.
From Terminal Auto-Progreso (Calle 60 between Calles 65 and 67), buses to the town of Sacnité pass the Dzibilchatún entrance (US$0.70, 7:20 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:35 a.m., 1:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m.); otherwise, take any Progreso-bound bus (departures every 10–20 minutes) which will drop you at the highway turnoff, about a kilometer (0.6 mile) from the ruins.