The Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that could be found in the Yucatan Peninsula in the Yucatan state (between Valladolid and Merida), which is now the present-day Mexico. This natural archaeological wonder is simply like nothing else you’ll ever see, and you will sure to give you a glimpse of a time when civilizations built, explored, and discovered.
Meaning “in the mouth at the Itzae’s Well,” the Chichen Itza used to be a place of a Mayan community once lived here sometime between 700 AD and 900 AD, a city that used to be a grand, thriving place of politics and religion. According to studies, they were the ones who built the structures in the southern area, and it was when the Toltecs came when the main buildings were erected. Today, these Mayan pyramids are some of the most famous ones in the Mayan peninsula.
This world-famous site is divided into three areas: north, central, and southern groups. You can go around these spots in a day, but if you don’t want to be under intense heat, make sure you’re already there by early morning or late in the afternoon. If you’re going to be there during midday, make sure to bring some water, for the heat could be a bit too intense.
The structure that towers over all the other buildings is the Pyramid of Kukulkan or the El Castillo, which originally had a total of 365 steps. At the top of the pyramid is the carving of the rain god Chac and the serpent god Quetzalcoatl. This temple has been restored several times already, but there some spots here that looked the same way as it did then—one of them is the jaguar sculpture with jade eyes at the northern stairway.
The Ballcourt of the Juego de Pelota is the largest of its kind in all of ancient Mesoamerica. You will be able to find other courts here, but archaeologists, historians, and just the regular visitors agree that this is definitely the most impressive. The temple that you must not miss after the ballcourt is the Temple of the Jaguars, a place with awe-inspiring murals and serpent columns.
The Sacred Cenote is a sinkhole that serves as access to the underwater river or a natural well. It’s been said that this is actually the spot where sacrificed victims used to be thrown. There have been past excavations wherein archeologists found jewelry and pottery along with human bones. The sacrifice theory was not really proved, but many believe that it was indeed part of the Mayan culture. After the cenote, head over to the Group of the Thousand Columns, a temple that used to be a busy marketplace. The statues of warriors are some of the most important and beautiful highlights here.
The other attractions in Chichen Itza that you must not miss are the Platform of the Skulls, the Nunnery, the El Caracol, the Mayan sweatbaths, and the Akab’ Dzib. Day trips do this place is done by lots of people here, but we highly suggest that you spend at least a night or two, so you’d be able to explore all spots in the whole historical area.
Just about an hour and a half away from Merida, Ycatan’s capital, this place is definitely what you’d want to see when you’re in the area. Apart from being recognized as some of the most important and beautiful archaeological sites in the world, this place in Mexico is also something that could teach you a thing or two about some of the world’s forgotten civilizations.