[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hichen Itza is maybe one of the most famous sites for Mayan ruins and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Mexico due to its proximity with the popular places Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The place is wonderful with many of its buildings in perfect condition.
This is maybe the first image in your mind when you think about Mayans. At least it was for me.
Chichen Itza is located in the Yucatan peninsula 4 hours or so by bus or 2,5 hours or so by car from Cancun. You can also arrive to Chichen Itza from Valladolid which is 30 minutes away.I highly recommend staying in Valladolid and making the trip to Chichen Itza from there.
Chichen Itza was built in 525 AD. This place still has many arquitectural treasures that are really valuable for humanity. The ball court, for instance, impressed me enormously.First of all, the field is huge; imagine half of a football field. Even so, two people can stand on opposite sides and hear to each other speaking in a normal voice. I did not believe this was possible since the field was really big but it worked. On the tallest part of the walls on each side you’ll see two rings where the ball had to go through to score a goal. It is important to say that the Mayans did not play with either their hands or their feet. They were only allowed to play with their hips, knees and forearms. It is believed that the losers of the game were sacrificed. This is interpreted because of various representations of people without heads along side other players that are engraven on some of the walls. Other historians say that the players who won deserved the honor of being sacrificed. These are theories that are not completely confirmed because it isn’t known whether the Mayans agreed with the idea of a looser and and a winner in this game.
In Chichen Itza you can also visit El Castillo, also known as Kukulcan temple. This is one of the best conserved pyramids and is very beautiful. Its stairs have a snake head at the bottom that seems to come to life every equinox (March 21 andSeptember 22). The sun is projected over the pyramid and as the sun moves across the sky the shadow created on the walls gives the impression that the snake is moving.
Chichen Itza also has a sacred cenote where it is thought that was used to celebrate special events and even human sacrifices. A lot of objects were found at the bottom of the cenote. Things such asprecious stones like jade and lots of ceramics. There were even skeletons found at the bottom of the cenote,especially of children which were offered to their gods.
The observatory was also a place where the Mayans used to look at the stars. This place was specially dedicated to astronomy.
Other interesting sites include the Thousand Columns, The Tzompantli, The Akab Dzib and the Jaguar temple, which were all really interesting.
In general, it was worth the visit to Chichen Itza. You practically go back in time and with every step you take you feel that you can live the passionatelife that these people lived. The Mayans were crazy intelligent and I think that if had a time machine I would probably go back to these years to learn more about these amazing people.
This civilization disappeared approximately in 900 AD and it is still a mystery why and how they vanished. It is thought that there was a big drought and because of this their sources of food suffered. There are also some theories that say that they used to be very violent and they ended up destroying themselves.
What to do in Chichen Itza.
I highly recommend visiting this place, but keep in mind these things:
– The earlier you arrive there the better. We arrived at 8:30 am or so and there was almost nobody (0 buses at the entrance). When we were leavingaround 11:30 am (almost 10 buses at the entrance) the place was a zoo and I am pretty sure you do not want to see that amazing place with so many people surrounding you.
– Be careful with this suggestion. I took my professionalcamera which is quite big and they were going to charge me an additional tax because they thought it was also a video camera. In case you are asked if you are carring a camera say “no”, otherwise you can be asked to pay.
– The entrance fee in January 2015 was $216 mexican pesos
– The kind of tourism that I was doing did not allow me to pay a tourist guide. I was, however, surrounded by 3 other people who were in the same situation as me. One of them had a Lonely Planet book which was really helpful for this situation. So you can try either buying a book before your trip or borrowing one.
– Talk to the vendors. They are people who really know about their history. Most of them can easily tell so many stories about Mayan culture. We spent a long time with them and had so much fun while listening to them.
– Take water with you. Chichen Itza as a whole does not have too much vegetation and it is mostly open. So if you want to walk and visit all the ruins get ready for a sunny day.