Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world, is without a doubt the most famous historical site in Mexico and remains an important tourist destination to understand the Maya and Toltec archaeological and astrological viewpoints. Chichen Itza is a perfect example of the fusion of traditions and cultures that developed in the Yucatan.
Inhabited from AD 750 to 1400, the Chichen Itza complex was a religious, ceremonial and urban center for the Mayan people.
Temple of Kukulkan (El Castillo)
The most recognizable and imposing structure at Chichen Itza is the Temple of Kukulkan with 365 steps; one representation for each day of the year. The pyramid has four sides with 91 steps on each side. The top platform marks number 365.
If you visit during the Spring and Autumn equinox (March 20 and September 22) you get the opportunity to see the illusion of a shadow serpent ascending or descending the side of the staircase. As this only occurs twice a year, you can imagine the site gets quite crowded during these times.
Plaza of One Thousand Columns
Near the Temple of Warriors sits over 200 squared columns each depicting a Toltec warrior. Evidence of pigmentation suggests that each column was painted decoratively. Archaeologists suggest that one thousand columns were created to support a thatched roof for something akin to a meeting room.
Chichen Itza Cenotes – The Well of Sacrifice
The only permanent water source in the area was a selection of sinkhole wells or cenotes in the area. Sacrifices in the form of young females were made to the Maya rain god, Chaac, via these cenotes. Bones, jewelry and other precious objects have been discovered in the sinkholes which add to the mystique of the place.
The Great Ball Courts
13 ball courts have been identified at Chichen Itza with the largest field in Mesoamerica located within the ancient city. The popularity of the game is obvious despite links to human sacrifice at the end of the ballgame.
The Abandonment of Chichen Itza
The city met a mysterious end and was abandoned in the 1400s. No one knows exactly why this occurred. Only 8% of the site is excavated and there are some partial areas of excavation in process offering a wonderful insight into the abandoned city. Political issues, drought, disease and overpopulation have been provided as to reasons why the site was abandoned.
How Do I Get There?
Chichen Itza is open every day of the year. Jeromi Transfers can drive you directly to the ruins for your Maya experience and return you back to your hotel for ease. Chichen Itza is located approximately two hours from Merida and two and a half hours from Cancun. It is best to avoid visiting on Sunday as Mexican nationals can visit for free and the site can get extremely crowded.
Tour Chichen Itza
The Chichen Itza tour costs $80USD for adults and $65USD for children and includes a continental breakfast on the bus, admission to the Ikkil cenote, a panoramic visit to Vallodolid City, shopping opportunities, a buffet lunch with drinks and a certified English speaking tour guide around Chichen Itza. Contact Jeromi Transfer for more information.