Chichen Itza

In 2007 more than one hundred million people voted to select Chichén Itzá Yucatán as one of the new 7 wonders of the modern world.

Chichen Itza

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During pre-Hispanic times, Mexico was populated by two great cultures: the Nahuatl and the Mayan. An exact date of the founding of the City of Chichen Itza cannot be given, however, it is known that it was a Mayan city with great influence from the Nahuatl-Toltec culture. It is recorded as the start date of its construction between 600 and 800 AD, and as the date of its flowering between 987 and 1200 AD.

Like many words in Mexico, Chichen Itza is not a word from Spanish origin, its name is from Mayan origin, which means “At the edge of the well of the Itzaes”. There are several factors for which this archaeological zone has become famous throughout the world, however, the most important is the effect of light and shadow that occurs on the pyramid known as El Castillo at each equinox.

Chichen Itza Mexico

The archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, which is under the custody of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), is in the state of Yucatan, also called the Yucatan Peninsula, less than an hour from the city of Merida (Capital of Yucatan) and three hours from Cancun. It is considered the most important archaeological zone in the Mayan world and is the second most visited in all of Mexico. Yucatan is a state of the Mexican Republic where not only pyramids can be visited, also there are cities of extraordinary architecture such as the Magic Town of Valladolid, underground rivers, and cenotes throughout the state, as well as farms from the Porfirian era. The archaeological zone can be reached by car or public transport. Soon there will be the so-called Mayan Train to make tours to this and other archaeological sites in the Mexican southeast.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

In 1988, UNESCO registered the Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen Itza as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO recognizes it as a sacred city of the Mayan Civilization, which houses more than a thousand years of history with a fusion of Mayan-Toltec construction techniques. Some of the considerations of UNESCO to declare Chichen Itza as Cultural Heritage of Humanity were the following:

  1. Due to the size, proportions, refinement and splendour of the sculpted decorations, the monuments were classified as masterpieces of Mesoamerican architecture.
  2. The city had influence throughout the Yucatan peninsula for more than 5 centuries.
  3. The city is the most important archaeological remains of the Maya-Toltec Civilization.

7 Wonder of the World

In order to select the 7 wonders of the modern world, in 2007 an international public contest was held, through which more than one hundred million people voted to select the 7 wonders of the modern world from 200 historical sites around the world. Chichen Itza was selected as one of them. The other 6 winning wonders of the modern world were: The Colosseum in Rome, The Statue of Christ the Redeemer, The Great Wall of China, Machu Pichu, Petra, and The Taj Mahal. The Pyramid of Giza was given an honourable mention of being the eighth wonders for being the only one that still survives from the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Chichen Itza Pyramid

The archaeological site houses multiple pyramids, the most important of them is the “Pyramid of Kukulcan”, also called “El Castillo”. The pyramid is seated on a base of 55.5 meters and has a height of 24 m. Each side of the pyramid has 91 steps, plus one to reach the upper temple. In total there are 365 steps that correspond to 365 days of the year. It is known that the area inhabited by the Mayans is abundant in underground rivers and cenotes. Chichen Itza was no exception, in fact, new studies found a hidden cenote 8 meters below the Pyramid of Kukulcan.

Chichen Itza ruins

Although there are countless unexplored constructions around Chichen Itza, the main pyramid, the surrounding buildings, and the Sacred Cenote, they have been on public display since the arrival of the Spanish. In fact, the first foreign visitor to the area were recorded in the 16th century AD. Unfortunately, the archaeological site has also been the victim of looting and illegal sale of pre-Hispanic pieces since 1840. Currently, the archaeological site is under the protection of the Government of Mexico.

Chichen Itza Snake

During the equinoctial days, a phenomenon of light and shadow that is considered a whole life experience for the people who visit Chichen Itza takes place. The descent of the God Kukulcan to earth on his way to the underworld.

At dusk of the spring and autumn equinoxes, a solar projection is observed in the Kukulcan Pyramid, consisting of the image of a serpent trough light and shadow triangles that as time progresses seems to descend from the temple, having as the last redoubt of reflected light on the head of the feathered serpent at the base of the stairs. This phenomenon occurs in March and September and can be observed over a period of 5 days on the dates closest to the equinoxes.

Without a doubt, the majesty of the Mayan pyramids means that every human being must visit Chichen Itza or another archaeological site built by the Mayans at least once in their life. Having as an extra attraction the impressive colors of the waters of the Mexican Caribbean, forests, underground rivers, cenotes and the best climate to spend the best of your vacations.

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