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