Chichén Itzá is a Mayan Ruin that is located in Yucatan, Mexico. The massive pyramid featured above is known as the Temple of Kukulcan or El Castillo and was the main focal point of this city, which really thrived between 600 -1200 AD.
Located about 2 1/2 hours from Cancun, many travel companies offer packages to visit the ruins, which include transportation and lunch.
Mayan ruins can be found in the following five countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras & El Salvador. What really makes Chichen Itza stand out, after visiting others, is how in tact the buildings really are.
Inside the ruins the king, nobles and other highborn classes were permitted to live and resume daily life. The merchants, artisans and commoners were kept outside the city walls though. High born children were marked as early as a few days old in order to establish a distinction between them and the common class. This practice consisted of pressing heavy stones onto their foreheads, thus flattening and reshaping their head into that of a cone shape. If your head wasn’t this correct cone shape, then it was easy to pick you out if you snuck over the walls.
During rituals and ceremonies the lower class were allowed into the city and gathered in thousands around the Temple of Kukulcan. The Mayans were extremely intuitive with acoustics and architecture and depending on where you stand, you speak at a normal level and still be heard clear across the grounds. Creating these “natural microphones” if you will, allowed the King and High Priests to be heard clearly among the masses.
Also located on these grounds is the Great Ball Court and the Temple of Warriors. The Great Ball Court features one long field with two temples at either end. The Mayan King or High Priests would sit in the temples, while the merchants and lower class were permitted only on the side of the wall that faced their land. This allowed the lower class people to climb to the top to watch the games, without actually letting them enter the city.
Games were played with purpose and usually ended in human sacrifice. While you would imagine that the losing team would be the ones to be scarified, it was actually the winning team’s captains. The Mayans believed that by presenting the Gods with the best of the best players it would yield the highest gifts back from them.
Mayans believed that there are 13 levels to Heaven and 9 levels to Hell. You can see these numbers repeated numerous times in the number of stones they used and the number of layers for their pyramids. It was believed that when you die, you work your way through these layers of the underworld to climb your way to Heaven. When a Mayan was sacrificed though, they would instantly reach the top tier of Heaven as a result. Human sacrifice was seen as the highest blessing a Mayan could receive.
Above is a picture of one of the temples that is at either end of the Great Ball Court. The acoustics in this court are similar to that of the great pyramid outside. Standing against the wall at the base of the court, one can simply talk in a normal tone and it can be heard clear to the other side. Our group did it in person and it is simply eerie to experience first hand.
The last main feature in this ruin, though there are certainly other ones, is the Temple of Warriors, also known as the Plaza of a Thousand Columns. Two hundred columns are along the this smaller temple and were actually covered with a roof at one point.
Optional Add on: Cenote
There are also packages that include not only a visit to the ruins, but also a visit to a sacred Cenote. If you have the time, this is the day trip I would recommend! Located only about 1/2 hour away from the ruins, this side trip is well worth the time going there. Below is a picture of what to expect, but we’ll do a full in depth overview of it in a separate article!
Have you seen Mayans Ruins in person? Leave your comments below!