Chichen Itza Mexico – The Second Most Visited Archaeological Site in this CountryMayan & Inca Sites | February 25, 2010
Chichen Itza, meaning at the mouth of the well of the Itza, is a big pre-Columbian site belonging to the Maya civilization. Spreading in the northern center of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, it exhibited multiple architectural styles and was once the major hub in the northern Maya lowlands. On spring equinox, many visitors used to throng this site to see the Temple of Kukulcan wherein the feathered serpent god was seen to descend downwards to the side of the pyramid seen through the light-and-shadow effect.
The site is full of superb stone buildings out of which many are restored and all of them are linked by a dense system of 100 paved roads called sacbeob. Based on the archaeological styles, the buildings are grouped in architectonic sets wherein each set is separated via low walls. Some of these grouped complexes include the Great North Platform containing El Castillo, Temple of Warriors, and the Great Ball Court; The Ossario Group holding the Ossario pyramid and the Temple of Xtoloc; and the Central Group encompassing the Caracol, Las Monjas, and Akab Dzib.
El Castillo (The Castle)
Known as the Temple of Kukulkan, this is a step pyramid whose floor is covered with square terraces and contains stairways to the temple atop. When the sun sets and rises on the spring and autumn equinox, a corner along the west of north staircase emits a serpent-liked shadow – Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl. There is also another temple below the current one within whose chamber is a Chac Mool statue and a throne shaped like a Jaguar.
Great Ball Court
There are many courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame among which this is the most stunning and largest of its kind at 150 m to the north-west of the Castillo. It is the largest ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. Atop the 12 m tall walls, there are rings with interlacing serpents. At the bottom of the high walls, inclined benches with panels of ball players are amazing.
Platform of Venus
Dedicated to the planet Venus and located between El Castillo and the Cenote Sagrado, its interior holds a collection of big stone cones.
Sacbe Number One
Leading to the Cenote Sagrado, this is the largest and most elongated white road in Chichen Itza Mexico. It starts at a low wall at some metres away from the Platform of Venus.
With no rivers, the Yucatan Peninsula is a limestone plain spotted with innate sinkholes known as cenotes that render the water table on the plain. This cenote is among the most stunning ones with steep cliffs projecting to the water table at 27 m below. Historically, this place was sacred where the Maya people performed sacrifices in times of drought. This is evident from the removal of many objects at its bottom such as gold, jade, obsidian, shell, wood, cloth, and skeletons of children and men.
Temple of the Warriors
This complex holds a large stepped pyramid with rows of carved columns of warriors. Atop the stairway on the peak, there is a Chac Mool temple that consists of a earlier structure called The Temple of the Chac Mool.
This monument has four sides each holding staircases. A temple atop leads into the pyramid and then further to a natural cave at 12 metres below. On excavation, several skeletons and relics including jade beads were found in the cave.
Temple of Xtoloc
Overlooking the other big cenote at Chichen Itza Mexico, the temple holds a myriad of pilasters adorned with the carvings of people, plants, birds, and mythological scenes. Located between the Xtoloc temple and the Ossario, you will find Platform of Venus, Platform of the Tombs, and a round structure.
This is among the remarkable monuments in Chichen Itza Mexico, which is a region of Terminal Classic buildings exhibiting the Puuc architectural style. To the east, a small temple nicknamed as The Church is worth visiting with its ornate masks of the rain god Chaac.