Archeological zone of Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico
The Pre-Hispanic city of Chichen Itza is considered to have been the most important Maya-Toltec center of its time.
With 31 archaeological sites registered on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, for the last 23 years Mexico has been the Latin American country with the largest number of sites distinguished by that entity, and ranks sixth worldwide. The site was inscribed to UNESCO’s World Heritage List of Sites in 1998. And on July 7, 2007, it was recognized as one of the “New Wonders of the World” in an international competition that was inspired by the list of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This competition was organized by a private initiative that recorded millions of electronic votes from all around the world.
Chichen Itza is located in southern Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, just 2 km from the town of Piste, 40 km from Valladolid, and 120 km from Merida. Its name derives from the Mayan words “Chi”, mouth, “Che’en”, well, “Itz”, magician, and “a”, water, that together, form the most likely definition, “wellhead of the water magicians.” The archaeological site occupies a platform of 6 square km surrounded by lush greenery, with a masonry wall that measures 2 meters high by 1.90 m wide, and is connected to a vast network of roads called “sacbé.” The total protected and surrounding areas measure 47 hectares.
Among the 17 structures distributed throughout the site, the most representative building is the “Pyramid of Kukulkan” (or Kukulcan), also known as the ” Temple of Kukulkan” or ” The Castle”, which is distinguished for being the tallest structure ever built by the Maya. On each of the four sides, we can see the well known staircases, adorned with balustrades, and which are watched over in the northern part by 2 large heads of the mythical feathered serpent symbolizing Kukulkan, the Maya’s highest god, equivalent to that of Quetzalcoatl from the ethnic groups of the high plain.
On the evenings of the spring and autumn equinoxes, a solar phenomenon can be witnessed on the steps orientated NNE, which appears as an illusion of the descent of the feathered serpent.
Chichen Itza is an enigmatic place including: The Temple of Columns, The Temple of the Warriors, The Ball Court, The Chichen Itza Observatory, The House of the Stag and The Building of the Nuns, The Temple of the Jaguar, and the Temple of the Bearded Man. And still remaining at this stunning site carved in the rock walls are the numerous secrets of Maya science. It has been proven many times over that its temples and squares rest in perfect harmony with the stars. The “Caracol” building, also known as the “Observatory”, is significant because within it lies a perfectly recorded calendar of the cycles of the moon, through which the best dates for sowing and harvesting were originally established.
The first researcher to explore the area was the American archaeologist Edward H. Thompson. Incredibly, in 1895 for less than $100, he purchased the henequen plantation which included the entire archaeological zone. Thompson rebuilt the farm and began exploring the region, beginning primarily with the “Sacred Cenote.” In this spectacular crystal freshwater well which measures 60 meters in diameter and is 26 meters deep, skeletal remains of animals and humans have been found, along with rich offerings of gold, silver, and jade objects. This suggests that the ancient inhabitants of the area performed sacrifices here as a tribute to their deities, and especially in honor of Chac, the god of rain. The cenote is located 300 meters north of the Pyramid of Kukulkan. Today it is visited by scuba-divers and lovers of extreme sports. Come and marvel at Chichen Itza! As it is next to Teotihuacan, the second most visited archaeological site in Mexico! r09