If you’re like me and are intrigued by ancient civilisations, you don’t have to wonder too much about what an ancient society would have been like. Thanks to the Mayans, you can see for yourself!
The Mayan Civilization was built up between 250 BC and 800 AD. Spread across 740 acres of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the Mayan civilization was characterized its people’s intelligence, skill, and futuristic outlook.
The ancient city of Chichen Itza was the most successful product of the Mayan civilization. Built-in 400 AD, Chichen Itza was the civilization's trade center for honey, salt, cloth, and even slaves! It was where all the important political and economic decisions pertaining to the community were made.
Today, all that remains of the once thriving city was its ruins. But don’t be discouraged when you hear the word ‘ruins.’ Over the last several decades, the ruins have painstakingly been restored to provide a look into the past. With most of the original sites and relics still on site, Chichen Itza is your best bet at spending a day in an ancient civilization.
What makes Chichen Itza worth the visit?
Wouldn’t you like to check off “I’ve visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World!” off of your bucket list? Well, here’s your chance!
Chichen Itza is home to the El Castillo, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Dedicated to the Mayan deity Kukulkan, this pyramid temple is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But what really makes this set of ruins stand out amongst other like it is research and restoration process they’ve undergone. Restorations demand a lot of time, effort and money, which is why many restoration jobs never take off or are left halfway done. Chichen Itza is a glorious exception to this trend, having been restored dutifully over a number of years.
A shining example of this is the El Castillo which stands in near perfect condition. Quite a rare and astounding feat considering it was built over a century ago, isn’t it?
Inside Chichen Itza
Remember how I’d earlier said that the Mayan were futuristic in the approach? Well, their architecture is where you’ll get to see that approach in action.
One of the main attractions in the city is El Castillo. To many, Chichen Itza is almost synonymous with this world-famous pyramid. Now, most often pyramids function as tombs. But the El Castillo is actually a temple, one devoted to the feathered snake Mayan God, Kukulkan.
The temple itself is a manifestation of the Mayan Calendar and is built adhering to strict astronomical and astrological guidelines. This is why the steps that lead up to the top of the pyramid represent the four directions of the compass and add up to 365, which is the total number of days in the year.
Staying in line with their superstitious history, the Mayans have carved serpent heads into the base of the pyramid’s stairs to protect Kukulkan.
The Great Ball Court
Sport was an integral part of social life in the Mayan society, and the Great Ball Court was a testament to how much the Mayans enjoyed competing. As the largest and best-preserved courts in the city, this court has witnessed some epic matches over time.
Legend has it that either the winner or loser of a championship was decapitated at the end of a tournament. Which one it depended on the interpretation you subscribe to.
The Sacred Cenote
One of the most hallowed spots in Chichen Itza, the Sacred Cenote is also known as the Well of Sacrifice.
Being extremely superstitious, Mayans believed that the cenote was home to the Rain God, Chaac. Also big believers in human sacrifice to appease Chaac, this cenote was the official location for sacrifice.
The Well of Sacrifice was also a popular pilgrimage spot, and it’s pretty interesting how archaeologists came to this conclusion. Dating to different time periods, they found many items at this location that weren’t locally produced. This led them to deduce that people from all over civilization believed in the sacred powers of the cenote and came here to pay their respects, laden with varied offerings.
Pretty crazy what the Mayans were able to achieve given the limited resources they had, isn’t it? Well, there are numerous other sites like these spread out through the city. So, do give Chichen Itza a thought before planning your next trip.
Choose the Right Tour
Getting an opportunity to explore the 1000-year-old history of one of the Wonders of the World isn’t one that comes along every day, so make sure you do it right!
Skip the local tour guides and massive tour groups; they’re often a chaotic experience. Instead, opt for an audio tour guide. Our Chichen Itza Tour Guide Cancun app will enable you to become your own guide and roam around the city at your own pace. You’ll be able to choose what you see and get in-depth information, interesting stories and historical details about each place you visit.