Chichén Itzá – Mexico
Take a step back in time and discover the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá. A plethora of temples, pillars and statues surround the towering icon and focal point of the city, the remarkable Kukulkon Temple. The ancient El Castillo, as the temple is commonly known, is steeped in the incredible cosmological knowledge of the Mayans, with 365 steps to represent one solar year. Indeed all of the buildings reveal the captivating Mayan culture, of which Astrology was just one facet. Chichén Itzá's ball court is the largest known in the Americas, and the home of their dangerous sport which saw the losing team’s captain beheaded, if the carvings are to be believed. The Temple of the Warriors also points to the Mayans famous religious sacrifices, as the stone on top served steaming human hearts to the gods as offerings. This UNESCO Heritage site truly earns its place as one of the most immensely interesting and culturally significant places on earth.
Where is it?
The city is located on the eastern tip of Mexico, overhanging South America and extending into the Gulf of Mexico. Cancun lies 120 miles to the east.
What is it?
Chichén Itzá is a rugged ancient city full of sky-high pyramids, immense temples, astonishing carved columns and historically fatal sports courts. The City is traced historically as far back as 600AD, and was a major city for the Mayan people given its religious and ceremonial significance.
Best time to visit?
Chichén Itzá's climate is consistently tropical given its equatorial location, with consistently average temperatures of 34 degrees centigrade. Visiting the ruins is best in the mornings to avoid the hottest part of the day, as well as the most crowded times as many visitor tours arrive later in the day.
Timing is essential for the most stunning attraction of Chichén Itzá. A true testament to the incredible Mayan cosmological and architectural genius, during the fall and spring equinoxes the suns shadow at sunset forms a vast snake's body on the Castillo pyramid. The shadow ingeniously lines up with a carved stone snake head at its lowermost point, revealing one of the most remarkable and singular sights on earth.