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Chichen Itza, Mexico
The historical past of Chichén Itzá just isn’t for the faint of coronary heart. These Mayan ruins are shrouded in thriller and have a approach of haunting you lengthy after returning residence from Mexico.
When you lastly get previous a military of native distributors on the entrance, the traditional stone carvings of fearsome creatures and bloodthirsty warriors at Chichen Itza encourage awe and set off unease on the similar time.
This pre-Hispanic metropolis (and UNESCO World Heritage Website) has an enchanting 1,000-year-old historical past. It’s the second most visited archaeological web site in Mexico, partly as a result of its shut proximity to Cancun.
Situated within the Yucatan Penninsula, the ruins are intensive and canopy 740 acres. Many sections have nonetheless by no means been excavated.
Whereas wandering across the large archaeological web site, I saved questioning what hidden treasures lay undiscovered beneath my toes.
Historical past Of Chichen Itza
One factor that makes the Chichen Itza so intriguing, aside from the large stone pyramid, is the mysterious decline of the Maya individuals themselves.
By the point of the Spanish conquest of the Maya, this nice metropolis and others prefer it have been just about ghost cities.
Historians have a number of theories as to why. Overpopulation might have depleted environmental sources. An incredible drought or one other disaster might have worn out the civilization.
Competing city-states have been continuously at struggle too — the Maya might have merely performed themselves in.
In any case, Mexico’s most well-known ruins are astonishingly well-restored web site in comparison with different Mayan ruins within the area. Which is why it’s thought-about one of many New 7 Wonders Of The World.
Pyramid Temple Of Kukulkan
When you enter Chichen Itza, you possibly can’t miss the Temple Of Kukulkan (aka “El Castillo”). A big 98-foot-tall pyramid which dominates the northern a part of town.
Kukulkan is a feathered snake deity within the Mayan faith. The pyramid is guarded by huge carved serpent heads on the base of the steps.
The Mesoamerican fascination with stars and planets imply the 4 stairways of the pyramid signify the 4 factors of a compass. There are 365 steps, one for every day within the photo voltaic calendar.
9 terraces in all probability symbolize the Maya perception in a nine-level heaven too.
For those who REALLY desire a deal with, go to the pyramid in March or September in the course of the annual equinoxes. At sundown, a play of sunshine and shadow creates the eerie impact of a snake steadily slithering down the staircase!
Scientists just lately found that this pyramid truly has two extra pyramids inside it.
Temple Of The Warriors
The Temple Of The Warriors is one other spectacular construction at Chichen Itza. A few of the 200 columns on the south aspect depict warriors in bas-relief.
The columns as soon as supported a roof system that’s lengthy gone.
Often known as the Corridor of the Thousand Columns, this grand area might need been a gathering place or an indoor market.
A Chac Mool tops the broad staircase, distinctive statues discovered all through the Yucatan Peninsula. Reclining figures holding bowls with their heads turned at a 90-degree angle and propped on their elbows.
They could signify temple guardians or slain warriors bearing items to Chac, the god of rain.
In Maya non secular ceremonies, stone dishes in all probability held choices comparable to incense, tobacco, tamales or tortillas. In Aztec rituals, they extra possible held human hearts.
The Maya Ball Court docket
Off to the left of the principle pyramid, you’ll discover the famed Maya ball courtroom. Whereas many websites embrace ball courts, the one at Chichen Itza is the most important on this planet.
Maya athletes performed a sport the place the item was to place a rubber ball (representing the solar) right into a small stone circle perched very excessive on a wall, with out utilizing your palms OR toes.
Some carvings counsel that the profitable workforce’s captain was decapitated, which was an indication of honor. The ball sport is over three,500 years outdated, making it the primary organized sport within the historical past of sports activities.
A few of the video games have been performed to resolve arguments between rival cities or as an alternative choice to all-out struggle.
Cenote De Los Sacrificios
Chichen Itza means “mouth of the effectively of Itza” within the native Maya language. One attainable translation of Itza is “enchanted water.” The Yucatan is roofed in cenotes — distinctive limestone sinkholes that kind pure swimming pools.
Cenotes have deep religious significance for the Maya. Many students imagine Chichen Itza was constructed solely due to the massive cenote positioned right here, which supplied individuals with contemporary water.
Cenote de los Sacrificios (also referred to as the Sacred Cenote) measures about 200 toes throughout with sheer cliffs that drop to the water’s floor. Throughout extreme droughts, worshippers tried to appease their rain god Chac by sacrificing particular gadgets or individuals (!) they weren’t very keen on.
Dredging this cenote uncovered hundreds of artifacts product of gold, jade and copper. Quite a few human skeletons with sacrificial wounds littered the depths as effectively…
Extra Cool Archeological Constructions
Tzompantli means “wall of skulls,” and this subsequent attraction lives as much as its title. The big platform supported stakes on which decapitated human heads have been impaled on high of one another.
The unlucky victims have been enemies defeated in battle or prisoners of struggle sacrificed to the gods. Whimsical cranium carvings across the base are a pleasant contact.
This exhibit would have scared the residing daylights out of would-be enemies.
A extra elaborate platform close by is called Home of the Eagles. Its motif is equally creepy. Eagles and jaguars, symbolizing Toltec sacrificial warriors depicted clutching human hearts.
One of the vital attention-grabbing buildings is El Caracol, which functioned as an observatory. There are lots of extra fascinating stops at Chichen Itza, so plan to spend no less than three – four hours to see all of it.
Swimming In Cenotes Close by
Whilst you can’t swim within the cenote at Chichen Itza itself (until you wish to be a part of the skeletons on the backside!) there are others close by the place you possibly can.
The closest cenote, and hottest with tour buses, known as Ik Kil. Whereas it’s a reasonably one, it’s at all times filled with individuals and appears like a vacationer lure. I’d in all probability skip it.
If you need a extra genuine cenote expertise, I’d advocate cooling off within the cenotes close to the city of Valladolid. These embrace Cenote Zaci, Cenote Dzitnup, or Cenote Suytun.
Getting To The Ruins
The ruins of Chichen Itza are about 197 kilometers (2 hours) from Cancun or 181 kilometers (2 hours) from Playa del Carmen by automotive. It’s additionally about 1.5 hours away from Merida.
The smaller city of Valladolid is an alternative choice. From right here the ruins are lower than an hour away.
RentalCars.com searches all the large automotive rental corporations and finds the perfect worth. That is in all probability the best technique to lease a automotive in Mexico.
For those who’re searching for a extra adventurous route, the “libre” highway runs parallel to the principle toll freeway and goes by means of a bunch of smaller villages for a extra genuine really feel of Mexico.
Mexican ADO Bus Service from Cancun to Chichen Itza prices about $202 MXN ($9) a method and takes three hours. From Valladolid, there’s bus service each 30 minutes for about $26 MXN
Colectivos van taxis go away Valladolid from quite a bit simply east of the bus station and value $35 MXN.
Ideas For Visiting Chichen Itza
- Tickets price $242 MXN ($11 USD). For those who pay money, solely pesos are accepted. You may lease a locker for big baggage and valuables.
- There’s a night “gentle & sound” present at 7pm in fall and winter and 8pm in spring and summer season. It’s included within the worth of admission.
- Attempt to go to very first thing within the morning after they open, or late within the afternoon to keep away from the large tour-bus crowds.
- Contemplate splurging on a guided tour. There are info plaques at every attraction, however nothing just like the perception you’ll get from an area information.
- Vacationers can now not climb to the highest of the Kukulkan Pyramid as a result of UNESCO standing and some deaths over time from falling.
- The solar is unrelenting. Put on a hat, apply sunscreen and take loads of water. If attainable, arrive as quickly because the gates open within the morning.
- The mediocre meals on-site is pricey. You may get significantly better stuff down the road on the village of Pisté for lots much less.
- Keep away from the distributors promoting souvenirs on the entrance. Sure, vacationers assist their livelihood, however a lot of them sneak in with out authorization, and it’s grow to be a little bit of a circus.
Chichen Itza Map
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