Chichen Itza Main Attractions

Chichen Itza

Temple of Kukulkan

The “Temple of Kukulkan” or best known as “The Castle”, is definitely the most important structure of Chichen Itza, and actually, it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

The most impressive thing about this building is the precision in which this pyramid was built. The position and every single step in this building have a reason to be there. For example, each of the temples´ four sides has its own stairway, and each stairway have 91 steps, plus a central step that is on top of the building, you get 365 steps, the number of days in a year. Twice a year, on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a rare light and shadows phenomenon occurs on “The Castle”, a projection on this building forms a shadow resembling a snake slithering down the stairs, that according to the Mayas, it´s Kukulkan descending to fertilize the land.

 

“El Caracol” Observatory

One of the most remarkable buildings at Chichen Itza is “El Caracol” (the word for “snail” in Spanish), that apparently was an observatory where the Mayas studied the planets, the sun, the moon, and the stars, and they could make weather and agricultural predictions, by recording the movements of these celestial bodies.

“El Caracol” Observatory used to have windows and doors aligned with some stars or planets, which allow the astronomical observations. Unfortunately, most of the windows had collapsed by the pass of the years, limiting the possibilities to learn more about the Mayan studies.

Observatory
 
Ball Court

The Great Ball Court

The “Great Ball Court” at Chichen Itza, is the largest ball court in Mesoamerica, measuring 525 feet long and 246 feet wide. The walls of this outstanding structure are 39 feet high, where the spectators used to saw the game.

At both ends of the “Great Ball Court”, you will find two temples, at the east side there is the “Jaguars´ Temple”, and on the opposite side is located the “Tigers´ Temple”. Supposedly, the sovereigns of Chichen Itzá observed the game from these two buildings. In the upper side walls, at 23 feet high, there are set two beautiful stone rings with intertwined serpents carved on them, representing the continuous cycle of life and death. According to the amazing paintings in some sites, the players had to use their hips to keep a rubber ball in the air and to pass it through the ring of the opponent.

 

Nunnery Complex

The “Nunnery Complex”, or in Spanish “La Casa de las Monjas”, is another of the amazing pyramids that you can find at Chichen Itza. It is formed by a group of structures decorated with the unique style of the Mayan culture.

This building is considered a residence palace, but the specialists don´t know exactly who used to live there, so there are different opinions; some of them think that in that palace lived the family who founded the City and others think that there used to live the priest or the governor. The name of this complex came from the Spanish conquerors that arrived to this place. They called this structure the “Nunnery Complex” because in Spain the nuns lived in buildings with many rooms, and as they saw that there were a lot of chambers they associated this building to the nunneries in their country, but actually there were never any nuns.

Observatory
 
Chichen Itza

The Warriors' Temple

The “Warriors´ Temple” was built on the year 1200 A.D. by the Mayan people of the ancient City of Chichen Itza, and this temple was associated with the warriors´ caste.

The “Warriors´ Temple” was constructed over an elder building dedicated to the “Reclined God” best known as “Chac Mool”. That´s why the Chac Mool is the central figure of this delightful complex. Inside of this pyramid, there are some vaulted rooms, and in one of the chambers there still a Chac Mool statue and original paintings on the walls, unfortunately these rooms are closed to public. The “Warriors´ Temple” is surrounded by the impressive “Thousand Columns”. These columns have amazing carved figures of warriors with different clothes and ornaments, and they are everywhere, on the top, inside, and outside the temple, like if they were protecting it.

 

Sacred Cenote

Thanks to the great location of Chichen Itza surrounded by wells of water that had allowed these people to have an intensive agricultural activity, this city reached its cultural and religious importance.

These natural fresh water deposits are called cenotes (from the Mayan word “dzonot” which means hole or well). There are a lot of cenotes in this region, but one of the most important cenotes is the “Sacred Cenote” at Chichen Itza, which has197 feet of diameter and is 45 feet deep.The Mayas thought that the cenotes were a means of communication with their god Chaac, who was the deity of rain and supposedly lived under the water. Archeologists think that in order to honor him, they make human sacrifices and valuable offerings such as gems, gold, ornaments and jewelry, throwing these gifts from the edge of the cenote, so that Chaac could help them during the droughts.

Observatory
 
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