We visited Chichen Itza (or Chicken Pizza, as Dirk referred to it) in late July. As Chichen Itza is situated in the Yucatan area in Mexico, and within easy reach of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, we dreaded the masses of tourists we would encounter during our visit. Of the many ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza is the most well known and the one sight to ‘tick of your bucket list’. The structures on the site were built by the Mayans and inhibited between 600 – 1200 AD.
In earlier years people could climb to the top of ‘El Castillo’, the iconic pyramid in the center of the site. Serpents guard the sides of the steps. During Spring and Autumn solstices, the sun falls on the pyramid and creates shadows that gives the appearance that the serpents are sliding down the stairs. An old woman fell off the pyramid during her descent in 2005 and died from her injuries. I’m not sure if this is the reason why tourists can’t climb to the top anymore, but when we were there, it was prohibited to climb the pyramid.
We spent the night before in Valladolid, a colonial town that is a good overnight spot from which to reach Chichen Itza before the throngs of tourists arrive from Cancun.
We took an early morning shuttle from Valladolid and arrived around 9am. There wasn’t a cloud in sight and very few tourists were around when we entered.
It was a fun site to do exploring, with trees and interesting plants providing shade.
The colomna Oeste and Colomna Norte had a lot of columns (as the name says) which is a feature that I haven’t seen before on other archeological sites.
There are two cenotes at Chichen Itza of which Cenote Sagrada is the biggest:
The water didn’t look clean and people can’t reach the cenote to swim there. The Mayans used the cenote for religious sacrifices.
These pile of stones look like giant bullets:
There were a few stone sculptures on the site:
As the morning progressed vendors unpacked their goods next to the paths. There were so many things to buy at surprisingly cheap prices. The jaguar noise toys were a great favourite (as on most pyramid sites) and we heard the horrible fake jaguar growl from all over the site.
There were many lizards to be seen on the temples:
The skull platform was very impressive with carvings of skulls all around:
On this platform one can see an eagle eating a human heart that is held in its claw:
This is the largest ball game court that I have seen. Players had to score goals by shoving a rubber ball through the hoop with their hips. In an unfair twist, one player of the winning team was sacrificed at the end of the game:
The temple of Osario is an impressive structure with fine carving on the stepped walls:
This lizard chooses to ascend the pyramid without using the stairs:
These faces with giant trunk like noses can be seen on the top corners of some of the pyramids:
The Las Monjas structures were the highlight of Chichen Itza with the Puuc style decorations and carvings:
There were birds nesting inside the structures and the eerie bird sounds echoed around us, giving the site a spooky atmosphere.
There were more tourists around as we were getting ready to leave. There’s always one person trying to meditate at a pyramid site, it seems:
Goodbye Chicken Pizza!