Do not miss Chichen Itza!

A brief description by the UNESCO states that “…this site is one of the most impressive testimonies to the Maya-Toltec civilization of the Yucatan (10th to 15th centuries). It contains some of the most outstanding examples of Central America architecture, combining Maya construction techniques and Toltec sculpted decoration.” Chichen Itza means “mouth of the well” and covers about 3 miles in area, built in the late Classic Period (800-1000 AD). Chichen Itza is a magical place, with the massive Pyramid of Kukulcan (El Castillo) as an elegant centerpiece. During your trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, you cannot miss the chance to visit the gorgeous Maya Ruins of Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza Site Description

The Mayan Ruins in Chichen Itza are divided into two groups: Old Chichen (Maya Classic Period 800-1000 AD) and New Chichen (Maya-Toltec Period 1000-1200 AD). Chichen Itza is one of the most important archaeological sites of Yucatan. Chichen Itza is a massive ancient ceremonial center comprised primarily of the Puuc construction style (old Chichen). Not all of the monuments (Temple of the Warriors, Temple of the Jaguar) are accessible to the 3,000,000 visitors who visit yearly. These are closed due to the preservation of these historic monuments. The most important structures are: El Castillo, The Great Ball Court, The Sacred Cenote, Platform of Eagle & Jaguar, Temple of the Jaguar, The Observatory, Venus Temple, The Temple of 1000 Warriors (columns), The Market, Casa del Venado and The Ossuary.

Chichen Itza Main Buildings

The Pyramid of Kukulcan EL Castillo

One of Chichen Itza’s Main Buildings is the Pyramid of Kukulcan, without a doubt the most impressive monument of these Mayan Ruins. Its design is believed to have some significance in the Maya Calendar. This square-based pyramid was built for astronomical purposes and is a prime example of archaeo-astronomy. It stands in the middle of a vast esplanade and is surrounded by many other monuments.

The Ball Court

The Sacred Games played in the Ball Courts had a profound significance for the Maya people. These Ball Courts are found in most of the Maya Ruins of great importance in the Yucatan, but the biggest one is located in Chichen Itza, which is also the best preserved court discovered in Mesoamerica: 545 feet from end to end, three of its sides are also part of temples (most likely used for rituals during the games), which feature intricate carvings and decorations, scoring stone hoops and such great acoustics that a whisper can be heard at the other end. A vivid example of Maya culture and magnificence.

Observatory El Caracol

We know today for a fact that the Maya knew the exact length of the yearly solar cycle and that it measured at 365.24 days. The Chichen Itza Observatory or “El Caracol” (The Snail) was dedicated to the study of astronomy and it consists of a tower erected on two rectangular platforms. The Observatory’s name is derived from the unusual stairway inside resembling a snail shell. From the top of the tower these amazing astronomers made observations of the stars with the naked eye and recorded their movements. For all these reasons, this temple is one of Chichen Itza main buildings, one you should visit when walking around these magical Maya Ruins.

The Temple of the Descending God

The Temple stands to the right of El Castillo and although there are many representations of The Descending God, this is the only monument bearing his name. The temple sits on a flat platform that was filled in and prepared to serve as a base for the erection of the building. A staircase leads up to the Temple showing a plumed guardian (thought to be Ah Muzem Cab), whose feet are illuminated when the sun rises, standing vigilant and protecting coast and commerce. The temple has a single chamber and a bottle-shaped vault. The structure is topped by a roof crest, and over the doorway, there is a niche with a painted stucco figure of the winged God descending from the sky.

The Temple of the Jaguar (Lower)

The Temple stands to the right of El Castillo and although there are many representations of The Descending God, this is the only monument bearing his name. The temple sits on a flat platform that was filled in and prepared to serve as a base for the erection of the building. A staircase leads up to the Temple showing a plumed guardian (thought to be Ah Muzem Cab), whose feet are illuminated when the sun rises, standing vigilant and protecting coast and commerce. The temple has a single chamber and a bottle-shaped vault. The structure is topped by a roof crest, and over the doorway, there is a niche with a painted stucco figure of the winged God descending from the sky.

The Temple of the Warriors

The Temple of the Warriors in New Chichen was built over an older monument dedicated to the Reclining God Chaac-Mool, the central figure of this awesome complex. The temple is a massive structure adjacent to The Temple of the Jaguar and surrounded by hundreds of carved columns. It is 10 meters tall and 40 meters wide and a prime example of the Toltec influence in Maya architecture. A wide stairway on the facade of the temple leads to stone representations of Chaac Mool and Kukulcan (Quetzalcoatl). The view of the temple seen from the Kukulcan Pyramid is spectacular and well worth the climb to the top of El Castillo.