Home LifestyleArt and Culture This Summer, visit Chichen Itza: The Great Capital of the Maya Civilization

This Summer, visit Chichen Itza: The Great Capital of the Maya Civilization

by Yucatan Times
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Chichen Itza is one of the most impressive and extensive archaeological sites of the ancient Maya civilization, located in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. It was a city or a ceremonial center that went through different phases of construction and influence from the various peoples who occupied and promoted it from its foundation.

The name Chichen Itza means “the mouth of the well of the water wizards” in the Maya language, referring to the Sacred Cenote, a large natural sinkhole that the inhabitants of the region considered one of the main entrances to the underworld, where important gods, such as those of rain, resided. The name also alludes to the Itzaes, powerful mythical-historical lords of the city during the time of its growth and peak.

The monumental architecture that has survived to this day, which is emblematic of the site, has a clear Toltec influence. The god that presides over the site, according to Maya mythology, is Kukulcan, the Maya representation of Quetzalcoatl, a god taken from the pantheon of the Toltec culture.

Some of the most remarkable structures in Chichen Itza are:

  • The Temple of Kukulcan, also known as El Castillo (The Castle), a four-sided pyramid with 91 steps on each side and a platform on top, totaling 365 steps, one for each day of the year. The temple is aligned with the equinoxes and solstices, creating a phenomenon in which a shadow resembling a serpent descends from the top to the base of the pyramid during these dates.
  • The Great Ball Court, the largest and best preserved ball court in Mesoamerica, where a ritual game involving a rubber ball and stone rings was played. The walls of the court are decorated with reliefs depicting scenes of sacrifice and victory.
  • The Sacred Cenote, a circular sinkhole with a diameter of 60 meters and a depth of 22 meters, where offerings and human sacrifices were thrown to appease the rain god Chaac. Many objects and bones have been recovered from its waters by archaeologists.
  • The Temple of the Warriors, a complex consisting of a large stepped pyramid with columns and sculptures depicting warriors and jaguars, surrounded by a platform with hundreds of carved columns representing warriors and feathered serpents.
  • The Observatory, also known as El Caracol (The Snail), a circular building on a rectangular platform with windows that align with astronomical events, such as the movements of Venus and the solstices. It is one of the few examples of Maya astronomy in architecture.
Chichen Itzá – Temple of the warriors

Chichen Itza was inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1988. On July 7th, 2007, the Temple of Kukulcan was recognized as one of the new seven wonders of the modern world by a private initiative without UNESCO’s support, but with millions of voters around the world. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Mexico and a symbol of Maya culture and history.

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