Chichen Itza, One of the New 7 Wonders of the World
By Daniel Alcalá |
Chichen Itza is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, visit it and learn more about the most famous Mayan city in the World and the second most visited archeological site in Mexico.
When the ancient Maya built the city of Chichen Itza, they didn’t imagine that in the 21st century it would become one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. What they did consider was to create a splendid ceremonial center to honor their gods.
THE MAYAS OF YUCATAN
The Maya civilization settled across the central region of America and the south of what is now Mexico. However, their establishments were independent cities. This means that they shared cultural characteristics but not a single ruler. Therefore, we can speak of the Maya of Tikal in Guatemala; those of Palenque in Chiapas or those of Chichen Itza, in Yucatan, among others. Also, the Maya civilization occupied these territories for a little over 2000 years. However, this didn’t happen at the same time in all the Maya cities. Nowadays, there are many Maya cities in Yucatan you can visit. Some of them are Uxmal, Sayil, Labna, Kabah or Ek Balam. All of them are highly recommended because they have diverse and interesting characteristics. Nevertheless, if you travel to the Mayan Riviera and south-east Mexico, Chichen Itza is a must-see.
CHICHEN ITZA ONE OF THE NEW 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD AND WORLD HERITAGE
Chichen Itza was one of the most splendid Maya cities of the late Classic and early Postclassical Periods. These epochs span over the years 500 to 1200 AD. It stands out for its impressive buildings such as the Ball Game or the Pyramid of Kukulcan or “The Castle”. The latter, far from being the largest pre-Hispanic structure in Mexico, is one of the most impressive. Why? An awe-inspiring archaeoastronomical phenomenon takes place there during the spring equinox. In 1988 Chichen Itza was listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage and in 2007 it was chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, some of which we have told you about in DINKtravelers.
THE 3 THINGS YOU CAN’T MISS IN CHICHEN ITZA
PYRAMID OF KUKULCAN
At the center of the archaeological site you will find the great pyramid of Kukulcan, unmistakable, outstanding, imposing. You will not be able to climb it because it’s closed to the public. Yet, you can walk around the construction’s perimeter. It looks magnificent from any angle. On March 21st, the day of the spring equinox, the shadow the sun casts on the grand staircase resembles a snake descending from top of the pyramid. They say it’s the great god Kukulcan, the feathered serpent. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps you know this god by its Mexica name, Quetzalcoatl.
THE BALL GAME
The Ball Game is another of the must-see tourist attractions in Chichen Itza. In this ritual area, equivalent to an I-shaped stadium, two teams competed to introduce a rubber ball into hoops that were embedded on the walls. The Ball Game found in Chichen Itza is one of the largest known. Consider this: Although it’s true that the Ball Game has impressive acoustics, this is a consequence of the walls, not some inexplicable phenomenon. Also, don’t believe everything that is said about the ritual of human sacrifice. It’s true that a sacrifice was made after the match. However, the victim was not necessarily the defeated team or the victor. In many cases the victims were prisoners from war.
In the area there are three sacred cenotes (sinkholes), but we recommend visiting the one closest to the Castle. A cenote is a large hole that connects with one of the underground rivers of the peninsula. This one was particularly used to leave offerings to the gods. Sometimes they presented the gods with valuable objects as well as human sacrifices.
Of course there are many more buildings that are worthwhile. Among them, visit the Observatory, the Temple of the Turtles, the columns, and the Temple of Warriors. There are so many things to see that we recommend planning a full day tour. Chichen Itza is the most visited archeological site in Mexico, so you will surely find many people on the day of your visit, but don’t worry, there is room for everyone.