Chichen Itza
Yucatan Peninsula

From: Yucatan Peninsula

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Chichen Itza
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza is one of the largest and most visited archaeological sites of Maya civilization in the area and has several important structures such as pyramids and temples many of which contain beautiful stone carvings and are set within this vast sacred city which covers an area of several square miles.

The site of Chichen Itza is beautifully located close to several cenotes which made it an excellent agricultural site which quickly grew into a complex city where religious ceremonies often involving human sacrifice, took place. Chichen Itza has many areas of interest from the large sacred cenote that was used for live sacrifice to the rain god, to many more advanced buildings which still contain several stone carvings and pillars from the cities rich history.

One of the most impressive buildings is Kukulkan's Pyramid, known as El Castillo which is dedicated to the Maya feathered serpent god kukulcan. During the vernal and autumnal equinox when the pyramid is covered in sunlight a shadow is formed in the shape of a serpents body that travels down the side of the pyramid where it links up with a unique statue of a serpents head at the bottom. The other impressive feat of this pyramid are the four separate stairways that lead to the top, together forming a total of 364 steps, with the upper platform making it 365 steps one for each day of the year.

The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza is also impressive at around 554 meters in length and the large observatory located on the site is indeed an impressive reminder of the Mayan's astrological expertise.

Although there are many structures at Chichen Itza that cannot be climbed upon due to erosion concerns the site still impresses with its shear enormity, architectural styling and intricate detailing.

Chichen Itza is located close to the town of Piste, which is between the cities of Merida and Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula of southern Mexico.

Travel Guide
There are regular bus services from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Merida that regularly travel to Chichen Itza.

Guided Tours
There is the opportunity to have a guided tour around the site which can be arranged at the visitor center at the entrance, alternatively you can use a guide book and explore on your own it all depends how much time you have and your own personal preference. The visitor center also contains a fascinating museum and shop where tradition Mayan handicrafts such as baskets, jewelry, wood and stone carvings and beautifully embroidered items of clothing can often be purchased from the local inhabitants.

It is best to visit Chichen Itza early morning before this popular site becomes too overcrowded and there is also a light and sound show which takes place most evenings that is also well worth watching.