Chichen Itzá

This ancient Maya city, whose name means "At the mouth of the Itzá well", is located in Yucatan, Mexico. (October 5, 2009)

 

Entrance at Chichen Itza I'm not really sure where to start. I'm so excited about my experience exploring Mayan ruins in Chichén Itzá. Since long time ago, my fascination for the Mayan culture inspired me to carve some stones. Of course, the stones that I made are nothing compared to the beautiful carvings in the Mayan temples. Let's start from the Beginning.

 

As I did mention before, The Maya name "Chichen Itza" means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza." This derives from chi', meaning "mouth" or "edge", and ch'e'en, meaning "well". Itzá is the name of an ethnic-lineage group that gained political and economic dominance of the northern peninsula. They were known as "Itzáes".

 

Between 600 and 1250 A.D. (long time ago before you even born), this ancient city was the center of the political, economic, religious and military power. It dominated the entire southeastern part of Mesoamerica, Today are know as Campeche, Tabasco, the northern Gulf coast and a large part of the southern lowlands. In part it was the center of mercantile activities which was known as the most important commerce circuit in Mesoamerica. If you have no idea what or where is Mesoamerica, you should take a look.

 

According to Mayan historians, this place had about 50,000 inhabitants (That is a lot of people, more than the ones living in your house, including pets) and were spread out over a 18 miles area. All groups on this area were communicated by 'Sacbeobs', also know as 'white roads'.

 

Main pyramid from Chichén Itzá The main building is known as "El Castillo de Chichén Itzá" meaning "Chichén Itzá Castle". It is also known as "Temple of Kukulkan" but people of the region prefers the name "Castillo". This step pyramid has a ground plan of square terraces with stairways up each of the four sides to the temple on top. On the Spring and Autumn equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl - along the west side of the north staircase. On these two annual occasions, the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid with the sun's movement to the serpent's head at the base.

 

Chac Mool & Kukulcan Head Inside the Pyramid a temple buried. Inside the temple chamber was a Chac Mool statue and a throne in the shape of Jaguar, painted red and with spots made of inlaid jade. I'm one of a few lucky persons that were able to see that temple. I personally went inside the tunnel and admired the inner temple, the chac mool and the jaguar. This time I was not able to get pictures as in 2006, INAH closed the throne room to the public. The right photo shows a Chac Mol and the head of Kukulcan. If you want to see a photo of the Jaguar, click here.

 

crafts for sale at Chichén Itzá It takes about 8 hours to visit the place and see everything. Anyone planning to visit it, may need plenty of water (Don't buy it there, it's quite expensive; about $3.00 a liter) and sun protection. A simple umbrella may not help. Also, get enough cash (perhaps $300.00 USD to buy some crafts) but DO NOT exchange the money at Chichen Itzá, they will pay you only the 65% of the Dollar value. Video cameras needs to pay a fee (about $3.00 USD) and the entrance fee is $5.00 USD (This information was taken on 2009, it may increase each year).

 

Let's visit Chichén Itzá in pictures:

 

El Castillo

El Castillo de Chichén Itza
As soon you enter the place, you can find the "Castle".

Ball Court

Great Ball Court
Great Ball Court located to the north-west of the Castillo.

Rings Carved.

Rings on the walls from the Ball Court
Rings carved with intertwining serpents.

Paintings and Carvings
Drawings at the North Temple
Drawings and Carvings from the North temple at the ball court.
Tzompantli Monument
Monument with carved depictions of human skulls.
This monument, a low, flat platform, is surrounded with carved depictions of human skulls.
Platform of Eagles & Jaguars
Carvings of Eagles and Jaguars holding human hearts.
Each side has a staircase to the top. Carved into the sides are Eagles and Jaguars consuming what appear to be human hearts.
Sacred Cenote

Sacred Cenote as ceremonial place.
The Cenote Sagrado was a place to conduct sacrifices during times of drought.

Temple of the Tables
Detail from the Temple of the Tables
Carving from the Temple of the Tables, The original paintings can be appreciated.
Temple of the Warriors
Carvings on each columns depicts warriors.
Consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors.
Thousand Columns

Group of the Thousand Columns
Are a series of what are today exposed columns, although when the city was inhabited these would have supported an extensive roof system. Located at the east side of the Castle.

The Ossario

The Ossario & Round platform.
There is a temple on top, but unlike El Castillo, at the center is an opening into the pyramid which leads to a natural cave 12 metres (39 ft) below.

El Caracol

El Caracol, Observatory.
It's nicknamed El Caracol ("the snail") because of the stone spiral staircase inside. Believed o have been a proto-observatory for astronomical events.

The Church
Small temple decorated with masks of god Chaac.
This small temple nicknamed La Iglesia, "The Church", is decorated with elaborate masks of the rain god Chaac.
The Church
A second building also named as The Church.
For some reason, it is called also "The Church". I believe this is a mistake.
Akab Dzib

kab Dzib means, in Maya, "The House of Mysterious Writing". Several building in the same place.
Temple of Warriors & Columns
Temple of the Warriors and Columns
This temple was built around or on top of a temple, next to the Group of a Thousand Columns.

 

Chichen Itza was "discovered" in 1843 with the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens (with illustrations by Frederick Catherwood). The book recounted Stephens’ visit to Yucatán and his tour of Maya cities, including Chichén Itzá. The book prompted other explorations of the city. In 1860, Desire Charnay surveyed Chichén Itzá and took numerous photographs that he published in Cités et ruines américaines (1863).

 

Here is a 3-minutes video from National Geographic Explaining more about the Mayan culture and Chichén Itzá:

 

 

Now, Chichén Itzá is waiting for you to discover amazing architecture and stories behind the Mayan culture. But beware; there are some dangers that you may encounter during the trip. I will explain with details later.

 


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