Chichen Itza - Piste, Yucatan

Located 120 km or 75 miles east of Merida in the state of Yucatan, the over 1500 year old Mayan site of Chichen Itza is one of the most famous archaeological zones in the world. The outstanding architecture of the Pyramid of Kukulcan and its function

Chichen Itza was the main economic, political, commercial, military, and religious center in the southern part of Mesoamerica. Its peak was acquired between years 600 and 1250 A.D.

The name Chichen Itza means "at the mouth of the Itzae well" being Itzae related to the cultural domain of the Maya civilization. The Maya Itzae domain included the current states of Tabasco and Campeche, a large part of the southern lowlands, and the northern Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, the Maya Quiche Domain extended from Guatemala towards Central America upon the current territory occupied by Honduras.

Due to its enviable location and its magnificent architecture, Chichen Itza is today the most visited archaeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula.

In the XVI century the Spanish colonists arrived to an abandoned territory. Rebellions had destroyed the grandeur of these people so the buildings and ceremonial structures were already in ruins.

Chichen Itza, as an archaeological zone, has been divided into three areas: the northern group, with strong Toltec influence; the old Chichen Itza, which is placed in the background; and the central group of the early period, located in the southern part of the site.

The architecture in Chichen Itza is represented in structures like The Castle, the Ball Game, the Thousand Columns Group, the building of the Eagles, the Temple of the Warriors, and the Market, among others.

Representations of the god Kukulcan, the feathered serpent, is constant as a decoration motif.

The same god representation, with different name - Quetzalcoatl - is found in very distant sites, such as Tula and Teotihuacan, in the center of Mexico.

The pyramid of Kukulcan, also known as The Castle, had both religious and astronomical purposes and it is located in the northern group. During the Spring equinox, the shadow provoked by the light of the Sun resembles a serpent descending through the pyramid stairs. This is known as the ceremony of Kukulcan and it was performed by the high Maya hierarchy during the times of splendor.

Among other interesting structures in this group are the The Temple of the Warriors, the Tzompantli, where skulls are displayed, and the Ball Court, which is the largest in Mesoamerica.

In the central group of structures, it is possible to see the Ossuary, the Red House, the Observatory, and the Nunnery.

Finally, in the background of the site, the so called by archaeologists old Chichen Itza, features structures like The Well of Xtoloc, the temple of the Carved panels where people, animals, and plants are depicted, and The Temple of the Bearded Man.

All three areas are visitable during daylight time from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

In the nearby, many other interesting ruin sites and beautiful natural settings can be visited, among which the cave of Balankanche, the Caverns of Loltun, and the well of Dzitnup are recommended.

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