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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