Chichen Itza is the largest and most famous Mayan site in the Yucatan Peninsula. Because of the sheer size and scope of the ruins, it’s best to have an idea of what you want to see when you arrive. Walking around randomly will only confuse your senses and perhaps make miss out on something you’d enjoy more. To help you figure out what are the most popular things to see at Chichen Itza, I’ve compiled a short guide.
There are 7 different ball courts at Chichen Itza; the grandest of them all is named the Great Ball Court. Archaeologists aren’t sure of the exact rules, but they have uncovered evidence that many of the players were sacrificed at the end of the game. If you want to have a truly rewarding visit to Chichen Itza, then a stop at the Great Ball Court is a must.
Chichen Itza was the spiritual and social hub of the late Mayan World. It was the centerpiece of the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula since the early 700’s. The city was the center of sacrifice for the area as well. The city owed that sacrificial reputation to an ancient Mayan and the mysterious cenotes in the area. A cenote is a natural well that reaches deep into the land, possibly connecting to other underground tunnels.
The Sacrificial Cenote wasn’t used for drinking, or cleaning, another set of cenotes and artificial wells were used for that. A Bishop in the mid 1500’s is the first to mention the sacrifices that occur at the ancient Sacrificial Cenote. The Bishop claimed that Chichen Itza had a huge chamber inside which they would herd thousands of slaves and citizens to be sacrificed at the cenotes.
If you plan on making a trip to Chichen Itza, then you’ll be sure to see many of the main attractions, such as the Great Ballcourt, El Castillo, and the Observatory. What you want to keep your eyes open for are the few little known ruins and sites that many pass up without notice. After all, the big things are easy to notice, it’s the little things that make their trip worth your wild.
The Red House is named this because of the flakes and scrapes of red paint that were found inside the structure. It was built on a high platform, and is pronounced Chichen Choob in the Mayan language. It is translated as "small holes" and most assume it points to the lime comb roof.
The ball court at Chichen Itza is one of the oldest known game courts in human history. The game is often referred to as Tiatchtli, and has been played since 1,000 B.C. Modern versions of the game are still played to this day by local populations, but the how the details of the game and how it was played by their ancient Mayan ancestors is still unknown.
Most people recognize the famous stone goals; this is actually a later addition to the game. The original version is even more mysterious than the late versions; seeing that we have no idea how they kept score before the stone hoop was added. The few rules we do know of belong to the time after a stone hoop was instituted. A single successful hoop could make a win, and being able to touch the ball to the vertical stone hoop scored individual points.
The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is one of the main places of interest for tourists visiting the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico. The name of the city means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza", and is believed to have reached its apogee during the political and economical dominance of the Itza ethnic group over the northern Yucatan.
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Colombian archeological site built by the advanced (for its time) Mayan civilization. Archaeologists have found signs of previously built settlements in the area, but the most impressive buildings in the city were built around 600 AD.
The most renowned of the Mayan ruins, the Chichen Itza ruins are famed for their amazing architecture as well as for the legends that surround the area. Chichen Itza literally means at the Mouth of the Well. The well of course refers to the sacred well nearby, where it is said that sacrifices of gold, silver, precious stones, as well as humans were sent into the well.
One legend says that those who are sent into the well as a sacrifice will have the power of prophesy if they live. When one group were sent into the well and none survived, an ancient ruler cast himself into the well and upon arising from it unscathed, prophesied his own rise to power.
There are two principal styles of public architecture at Chichén Itzá. The first is a local variant of the Puuc style found at sites in west-central Yucatán and northeastern Campeche. The other style, according to Peter J. Schmidt, "is partly derived from the same roots but is vastly enriched by elements and concepts from other parts of Mesoamerica, notably the Gulf Coast, Oaxaca, and central México.
Early investigators of Chichén Itzá proposed that Puuc-style traits were "Maya" and the features of the "Toltec" style include serpent columns, Chac Mools, Atlantean figures, serpent heads at the top of alfardas, tzompontlis, and carvings of processions of warriors, among others, much like those found in Copan and Tikal.
Chichen Izta, (pronounced, Cheechen eetZA) is perhaps the best known Mayan archaeological site on the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico, leading Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras. Thought to be built on the site of a prior Mayan settlement, the city was at its height from around AD 980 to 1220, preceding the Toltecs from central Mexico, who settled here.
Many ruins of important buildings remain from this time. The Castillo and other temples with sculptures and color reliefs, an observatory, and a sacred well (cenote), into which sacrifices, including human beings, were thrown are included among these.
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