The name Edzná (Etzná) goes back to the inhabitants of the town, who were named Itzaes by their neighbours.
This “city of the Itzaes” is not only characterized by monumental buildings, but once also had a sophisticated irrigation system. Aerial photographs have revealed that Edzná is surrounded by a complex system of canals and cisterns and that a fortress-like square building structure was surrounded by a water ditch.
While most of the architectural structures that can be seen in Edzná today originate from the Mayan Late Classic (ca. 600-900 AD), some of the canals date back to the late Pre-Classical period (ca. 300 BC).
From the main plaza a wide staircase leads to the Great Acropolis, a group of 10 buildings standing together on a raised platform. The steps are flanked on both sides by two pyramids with temples on the uppermost levels. Behind a central, square stone altar rises the impressive temple of the five floors (“Templo de los Cinco Pisos”), crowned by the remains of a mighty ridge. With a height of over 30 metres, it is by far the most striking building in Edzná. Above the wide staircase, hieroglyphics show the date 652 A.D., which is probably the year of construction of the temple.
At the foot of the stairs leading to the Great Acropolis, two of the “white streets” of the Maya, the so-called Sacbeob, meet each other. While these straight paths were mostly built to connect distant points, they can also be found within cities, where they were supposed to serve as processional routes or formalize access to important buildings and city districts. The more than 130 meter long complex Nohoch Na (“Big House”) closes off the western edge of the large plaza. Its wide steps lead to a once covered gallery that occupies almost the entire length of the building. The width of the steps suggested to researchers that they once served as spectator stands at major events on the Plaza.