Chichen Itza: A Journey Through the Ancient Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza is one of the most breathtaking sights to see when traveling in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Located on the northern half of the peninsula, Chichen Itza is a complex of ancient Mayan ruins that showcase an intricate and diverse civilization. Today, visitors can marvel at the remnants of this once-thriving city.

The core area of Chichen Itza covers roughly 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles) with residential architecture extending beyond that. Archaeologists are still determining when exactly the building of Chichen Itza began. However, historical records suggest it was in its early phases of development around 600-750 AD.

Throughout several centuries, the city grew and developed. It served as a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic (AD 600–900) through the Terminal Classic (AD 800–900) into the early portion of the Postclassic period (AD 900–1200).

Chichen Itza – Home to the Mayan People

Chichen Itza was home to Mayan people from all areas of the Yucatan Peninsula. The city exhibits many architectural styles, reminiscent of central Mexico and the Puuc and Chenes styles found in the Northern Maya Lowlands. Historians believe that Chichen Itza was founded and rose to prominence due to its proximity to the Xtoloc cenote, an underground source of fresh water.

The tallest structure in the complex is El Castillo, also known as The Pyramid of Kukulkan (Feathered Serpent in Spanish). Standing at 30 meters or 98 feet tall, this ancient pyramid was constructed by the Mayan people sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries.

Other notable structures include the Great Ball Court, an ancient sports arena with stone platforms measuring 95 feet in length and 25 feet in height, the Osario Pyramid, and the Temple of the Warriors. Chichen Itza is also known for its unique phenomenon during the equinoxes of March and September when the sun hits the nine bases, projecting a snake’s tail shadow on El Castillo.

In 2000, the New7Wonders campaign set out to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World. With over 100 million votes cast, Chichen Itza was chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World due to its large concentration of culturally significant, ancient manmade wonders and its ranking in the top 7 among all nominees.

The complex is truly an awe-inspiring wonder of the world and a testament to the rich history and culture of the Mayan civilization.

Featured Image by Omar Zetina

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