Chichen Itza Ruins, Mexico

Chichen Itza Ruins, Mexico (“at the mouth of the Itza well”), the ruins of a grand Mayan city, is a must-see for the Central American and Mexican tourist. Besides being the second most popular tourist destination, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. This expansive compound makes up one of the most colossal Mayan sites.

Chichen Itza Ancient Ruins in MexicoAlmost a millennium before Columbus reached the New World, the Mayans were thriving on a limestone plateau on the northern Yucatan peninsula. The Chichen Itza ruins are surprisingly well-preserved and easy to reach from Mexico’s larger cities making this a ideal destination for travelers on low cost holidays. The remains of the theosophy of the Toltecs and Mayans display painstakingly artistic detail in stone.

Chichen Itza was built in around 600 A.D., and was initially intended primarily as a place of worship. In fact, it was the primary location of religious rites in the entire Yucatan. Its population reflected these spiritual origins. Chichen Itza’s population grew steadily until 800 A.D., when citizens abandoned all Mayan cities.

Ball Court entrance Chichen Itza Mexico mdTwo centuries later, different Mayan peoples resettled the city during the Mayan-Toltec era, and everyone moved west to Mayapan. No one knows why.

The ruined city’s favored deity is the plumed serpent Kukulkan, whose 78-foot high temple is the most famous in all of Chichen Itza. Unlike Egyptian pyramids, El Castillo (“castle”) has only four sides.

The Observatory Chichen Itza MexicoThe entire structure serves as a solar calendar. On every day, the sun shades a different step of the stairway to the apex (91 in all). Among other functions, the pyramid was an aid in the timing of crop plantings.

Besides paying homage to Kukulkan, the temple was built to study the cosmos, as was the Platform of Venus. This spiritual structure was named one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

Chichen Itza features a sports field abutted by shrines at its borders. Still other shrines exist in honor of revered animals, like the jaguar and eagle. The upside is that the athletes were proficient. The downside is that the city’s Toltec influences dictated that losing teams were often sacrificed to the gods.

El Caracol (“conch shell), an astronomical observatory was built here, with windows set into a stone dome, an amazing architectural feat. When Mayans looked through specific windows on exact dates, they could observe designated celestial bodies.

Chichen Itza is easily reached from hotels in either Cancun or Merida, the closest city. It white limestone and prevalence of white buildings have earned the Yucatan’s capital the nickname of the White City.

Although it showcases modern fashion and a unique flair, Merida also reminds the Mexican traveller of Colonial days. The town is remarkably compact, and it is easy to see the sights on foot.

The six million modern Mayans, although racially diverse, continue to honor the old ways, as they:

• Grow the ancient foods of tomatoes, squash, corn, beans and chiles

• Practice herbal medicine and eschew Western techniques

• Favor Mayan dialects to speaking Spanish

• Celebrate a mixture of ancient Mayan religious beliefs and Catholicism



  1. I did not know Mexico had such places:))

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