Chichén Itzá Uxmal Mayapán Dzibilchaltún Xcambó Tulúm

Chichen Itza

Table of Contents

Chichen Itza is the most visited Archeological Site in the Mayan Culture and represents the most complete and spectacular example of the combination of Mayan and Toltec cultures that flourished and reached a remarkable extension under the influence of “colonizers” from Tula.

The archaeological sources and the historical tradition, offer interesting indications for the study of the architectural and stylistic aspects of this Yucatán City, characterized by the evident mixture of two different cultures.

In Chichen Itza, numerous decorative elements, especially in the form of sculptures and stone bas-reliefs, testify to the strong presence of the cult of Quetzalcoatl, known as Kukulkan to the Mayas. The worship of the Sacred Cenote remained alive until the time of the conquest, a well to whose murky and deep waters victims were thrown to please the god of Rain Chac.

Facts about Chichen Itza are one of the most interesting and basic things to learn when visiting this Mayan Archeological Site. Learn 10 Facts about Chichen Itza from the Pyramid in Chichen Itza, the Sacred Cenote, and speaking about the Pyramid and the Cenote, did you know there’s a hidden Cenote right under the Great Pyramid of Chichen Itza?
Learn more about this fact and many more in this list I’ve written for you.


Chichen Itza open hours?

Chichén Itzá is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. (Closing time may vary between 4 pm and 5 pm depending on the season)

When visiting most of the Mayan archeological sites you need to pay 2 fees, one for the Yucatán Tax Administration Agency, and a second one for the National Institute of Arts and History.

How much is Chichen Itza’s entrance fee in 2022?

General Admission
State fee: $453 MXN
Federal fee: $80 MXN
Total: $533 MXN
(Children between 3 and 12: $85 MXN)

Mexican CitizensYucatán State Residents
State fee: $157 MXN
Federal fee: $80 MXN
Total: $237 MXN
State fee: $0 MXN
Federal fee: $80 MXN
Total: $80 MXN

Free admission

  • Free admission for Mexican Citizens on Sundays with a valid ID.
  • Free admission every day for Mexican Citizens with the following valid IDs: Older than 60 years, retired, pensioned, teachers, students, children under 13, and handicapped.

When is the best time to visit Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is the second most visited archeological site in México with more than 2.5 million visitors a year, with the busiest months being November – to April.
The months with fewer crowds are May – June, and September – October.
The perfect month to visit this archeological site because of the good weather and fewer tourists in May.
The best time during the day is between 8 and 11 am, and if you’re not an early bird, you can get there between 2 and 3 pm.

What’s the estimated time spent in Chichen Itza?

Relax: You can walk around the Pyramid of Kukulkan to see the buildings without going into the Sacbés or roads in just under one hour.
Tourist: If you want to see everything stopping only to take pictures, it may take between 3 and 4 hours.
Archeologist: If you already read about Chichen Itza´s history and its buildings, you might want to really explore the architecture and engravings around the monuments. This may easily take between 4 to 6 hours.

General recommendations when visiting Chichen Itza?

1. Keep yourself hydrated
2. Wear comfortable shoes
3. Plan your route
4. Be patient
5. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays
6. Avoid large crowds
7. No drones or tripods allowed
8. Get a bus tour
9. Hire a guide (or not)
10. Something about salespeople
11. Bring cash
12. Bring mosquito repellent

Some of the Chichen Itza recommendations you find here may be common sense like drinking lots of water and protecting yourself from UV rays, but I recommend you read all of them to learn a couple of things you may not have thought about.

1. Keep yourself hydrated

The first of our Chichen Itza recommendations is to take a few liters of water in your backpack because you’re going to sweat, plus the weather is very hot and humid.

2. Wear comfortable shoes

You may wear sandals, but it’s best to take your hiking or tennis shoes. The pathways are a bit uneven and unpaved, also you’ll have to keep an eye out for errant rocks and sticks.

3. Plan your route

If you’re just looking to take a couple of amazing pictures in front of the main pyramid, and other nearby constructions, there’s no need to plan the route; but if you want to see everything, it’s best to plan ahead so you know what you want to see, and where it is.

4. Be patient

Lots of people visit Chichen Itza, and most of them get there between 11 am and 1 pm, so if you’re expecting to take a picture by yourself in front of the Kukulkan Pyramid, that may be a bit difficult. So, you can wait, or just take the picture and then edit your photo later.

5. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays

This is one of the most important Chichen Itza recommendations because you may find some shades under the trees, but most of the time, you will be under direct sunlight, so make sure to use sunscreen, a hat, and it may also be a good idea to take an umbrella with you.

6. Avoid large crowds

Chichen Itza can get very crowded depending on the season, schedule, and day of the week. There’s not much we can do about the season because we usually plan our trip depending on other factors, but try to avoid Sundays because any citizen with a valid Mexican ID gets in for free.
Another thing to look out for if you want to avoid large crowds in Chichen Itza is that most of the tour buses get there at around 11 am, so if it’s in your hands, try to get there at 8 am, or after 2 pm.

7. No drones or tripods allowed

This is one of the Chichen Itza recommendations that’s more of a warning, than a recommendation because you may freely take pictures and video with your handheld camera or smartphone, but you have to pay a small fee for shooting video with a pro camera. Also, keep in mind you can’t use drones.
If you really need to use a tripod, there’s special permission to use one, but it might take some valuable time out of your visit to get it.

8. Get a bus tour

While driving yourself may give you the freedom to stay the time you need and stop to eat wherever you want, it might be tiring for the driver. So, it might be a good idea to get a bus tour to Chichen Itza because most of them include the access ticket, a tour guide, food, and drinks, so you don’t have to worry about anything else other than enjoying your trip.

9. Hire a guide (or not)

This is one of the Chichen Itza recommendations that is totally up to you and what you want to get out of your trip to this Mayan Archeological Site.

Other than taking amazing pictures, a must when you visit Chichen Itza is to know what you’re looking at and a little bit of history. So, you have 2 options, read before you go, or hire a tour guide.

10. Something about salespeople

There are souvenir stands everywhere, selling figurines, t-shirts, wood carvings, and the list goes on. It’s important to buy from them and not big chain stores because some of the articles you can find there are works of art that were built with their own hands, plus you help their economy, but in my opinion, I don’t think there should be so many of them, this amazing Archeological Site ends up looking like a market.
Also, a few of them lie to get your attention, they may say something like 5 T-shirts for $5 dollars, and when you ask, they say 5 T-shirts for $25 dollars, making it seem like you may have heard wrong. Or they have a big figurine and offer it to you at $1 dollar, and when you approach them to buy it, they have a small one “hidden” in the other hand; then they tell you that’s the one that costs $1 dollar, and the big one costs $30.

11. Bring cash

While traveling in México, it’s always best to carry cash because you never know when you can pay with a credit or debit card. Even when they accept them, they may not work properly, try to carry cash with you.

12. Bring mosquito repellent

It depends on the season, but most of the year there are lots of mosquitos, one of the most important Chichen Itza recommendations is to take with you some mosquito repellent in the form of liquid, bracelet, sticker, or whatever works for you.


Housing Periods

The most important housing period of Chichen Itza has been divided into three; one corresponding from the years 550 to 800 which corresponds to a stage of pure Mayas; another from 800 to 1000 known as transitional, where the settlers from central Mexico arrived and brewed a new culture with the Maya, now called Mayan-Toltec; and the last one from 1050 to 1300 corresponding to the decline of the city.

Architectural and stylistic aspects of Chichen Itza

The archaeological sources and the historical tradition, offer interesting indications for the study of the architectural and stylistic aspects of this Yucatecan City, characterized by the evident mixture of two different cultures.

In Chichen Itza, numerous decorative elements, especially in the form of sculptures and stone bas-reliefs, testify to the strong presence of the cult of Quetzalcoatl, known as Kukulkán to the Mayas.

Kukulkan, the Mayan new god

It was probably the Toltecs who superimposed the anthropozoomorphic figure of this ancient and mysterious divinity, the legacy of the Teotihuacan civilization, its cultural hero Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, the mythical king of the legendary city of Tula, identified by so many archaeologists with the city of modest dimensions brought to light in the state of Hidalgo. Quetzalcoatl, after many years of reign over the city of Tula and its inhabitants, was dethroned by his evil brother Tezcatlipoca, an event that according to sources occurred in the year 987.

The Mayan god Kukulkan
The Mayan god Kukulkan

Different traditions are intertwined and superimposed on the fate of this civilizing hero, after his expulsion from Tula; according to one of them, he emigrated eastward, with a group of followers, to the territory of Yucatan, which he probably reached by sea. This is consistent with Yucatecan documents from the colonial era, which narrate the arrival to Chichen Itza of a character of noble lineage, cultured and refined, which the Maya gave the name of Kukulkán, which in Yucatec means precisely “snake-quetzal”, or more simply “Feathered Serpent”.

No doubt he brought to Chichen Itza much knowledge, especially in the field of arts and medicine, as well as the culture of his hometown, whose assimilation by local people must have given great impetus and prosperity to the city.

Many historians have interpreted oral tradition and colonial sources as the “fictionalized” reflection of events actually occurring; the “invaders” of Chichen Itza were probably exiled from Toltec lineage, expelled from Tula. Since the end of the tenth century, then, Chichen Itza assumed the role of the guiding city of Yucatán; its architecture represents a hybrid of the elements inherited from the Classic Maya, elements of Puuc style, and new Toltec contributions.

Human sacrifices in Chichen Itza

Tzompantli and Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá
Tzompantli and Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá

What inevitably surprises and impresses those who stop to visit the vestiges of this prestigious archaeological zone are aspects of material culture linked to human sacrifices; they were always practiced in Yucatan and other Mayan regions and the Toltecs further accentuated these rituals as seen in the altar of skulls where the heads of the decapitated victims, the Tzompantli, were nailed.


Best time to visit Chichen Itza

The Best time to visit Chichen Itza depends on your schedule and likes because you might like large crowds or be the only one there. For large crowds go on the Chichen Itza Equinox or a Mexican Holiday, if you can’t schedule these days, just visit between 11 am and 2 pm to get the largest crowds.

On the other hand, if you like to be practically the only one there, visit Chichen Itza on a rainy day and be there at 8 am. Check out the rest of this article to choose the best time to visit Chichen Itza.

General Weather in the State of Yucatan

Chichen Itza is located in the Yucatán Peninsula south of the Tropic of Cancer and is surrounded by warm tropic waters from the Gulf of México and the Pacific Ocean which means it has a warm and humid tropical weather.

The Temperature in Chichen Itza

The temperatures in the Mayan Peninsula are very high and constant throughout the year between 28ºC in December-January and 35ºC in May-August.

Rain and hurricanes

The Mayan Peninsula has two rainy seasons between May and October, and between November and April, of course, this season may come before and after these months.

Hurricane in the Mayan Peninsula
Hurricane in the Mayan Peninsula

Since there are no mountains in the Mayan Peninsula, hurricanes have no obstacles to slow them down, which makes the land vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes coming from the East. The tropical hurricane season starts in May and ends in December.

The best months to visit Chichen Itza

The best time to visit Chichen Itza according to the months is between March and May because there’s not a lot of rain and there’s also not that much tourism.

After these months, the second-best time to visit Chichen Itza is between December and February because of the weather, but the downside is that there are a lot of tourists, so try to get there early.

Best hours to visit Chichen Itza

The best time during the day is between 8 and 11 am, and if you’re not an early bird, you can get there between 2 and 3 pm.

Worst time and day to visit Chichen Itza

The worst hours to visit Chichen Itza are between 11 am and 3 pm when most of the tour buses arrive.

The worst day to visit Chichen Itza is on Sundays when every person with a valid ID from México can get it for free.

Another bad option that mostly depends on you, is the Chichen Itza Equinox because it may get very crowded. If you want to see it, I recommend visiting the site one or two days before and after. You can still enjoy the effect, but with fewer crowds.


Location of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is located in the State of Yucatan in Mexico, 120 km southeast of its capital Merida, and 200 km southwest of the city of Cancún.


How to get to Chichen Itza

You can arrive in a comfortable and safe way, using any means of transportation like tour buses, car rental, or public transportation.

Chichen Itza Tours

You can get a complete experience of Chichen Itza with the hiring of a Tour Agency like Xichen by Xcaret that can offer you different packages with everything to turn your trip to Chichen Itza into a unique experience.

The Classic Chichen Itza Tour will provide full transportation either by bus or van from the hotel where you’re staying or from any other pick-up point. The tour includes the price of the tickets with a guide included, which will give you a tour through the site with breaks for free time.

The guides are certified and speak English, some of them even speak multiple languages.

Most tours will also visit cenotes and a delicious buffet-style meal in a restaurant of excellent regional quality.

Car Rental to go to Chichen Itza

With this option, you can take the wheel and make the journey with the stops you want and the way you want.

If you decide to rent a vehicle to make the trip to Chichen Itza, you can get an excellent price for the rental of your vehicle from an authorized website like rentalcars.com, getting a discount if you set it aside in advance.

Once you get your vehicle, the trip to Chichen Itza will not be complicated, you just have to take the 180 federal highway known also as the Mérida-Puerto Juarez highway. As for the conditions of the road, you should not worry because it is in perfect condition. Along the route, you can make stops in many tourist places, such as famous cenotes or tourist spots that offer beautiful crafts, perfect as souvenirs of your visit.

If you’re driving yourself, you can easily use apps like Google Maps or Waze to get there.

Public Transportation to Chichen Itza

If you want to get to Chichen Itza using public transportation, you can take buses, which are an economical and convenient option to get to your destination regardless of the number of people in the group. Buses are taken from the bus terminals in any city like Cancún or Mérida and should be taken in the morning as early as possible. By choosing this option, you can enjoy your trip in nice and spacious seats with air conditioning.

Public transportation usually stops in a beautiful town called Pisté located 15 kilometers from the ruins of Chichen Itza where you can buy ornaments and crafts to remember your trip and stretch your legs before continuing.

How to get to Chichen Itza from Merida

From Merida, it’s 120 km and you get there in approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.



How to get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid

From Valladolid, it’s 50 km and you get there in approximately 45 minutes.



How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun

From Cancun, it’s 200 km and you get there in approximately 3 hours.


How to get to Chichen Itza from Tulum

From Tulum, it’s 150 km and you get there in approximately 2 hours.


5 recommendations if you’re driving to Chichén Itzá

The Chichen Itza recommendations may change if you’re driving there with new options like taking control of the time you get there and leave, staying there as long as you need, and some other ones. 

Check out these specific Chichen Itza recommendations in case you rented a car or a friend is showing you around the Mayan Peninsula.

1. Get there early (or late)

Try to get there between 8 and 10 am because most tour buses arrive between 11 am and 1 pm, plus it’s not that hot when you arrive that early.
If you’re not an early bird, try to get there between 2 and 3 pm, when the tour buses start to leave.

2. Look out for expensive toll booths

There are also a couple of expensive tolls along the way, depending on where you’re staying, so bring some extra cash with you.

3. Time your trip

Depending on where are you staying (from Mérida: 1:30 hours, and from Cancún: 2:30), you should time your trip. For example, if you want to get there at 8 am from Cancún, you should leave at around 5:30 am.

4. Leave on a full tank

You may find some gas stations along the way, but it’s better to just fill up your tank before you leave so you don’t have to stop.

5. Car A/C is a must

If you rent a car, make sure it has a working A/C, even while driving at high speed on the highway, you may need to cool off.


5 Recommendations when traveling to Chichen Itza with children

When traveling to Chichen Itza with children, you should keep in mind that not all children are fascinated by the idea of going to explore archaeological ruins, but that does not mean that you have to miss the opportunity to visit them. That’s why I leave you a list of recommendations that will make your visit and that of your little ones more pleasant.

1. Stroller

Use of stroller in Chichen Itza with Children
Use of stroller in Chichen Itza with Children

Although the roads are quite irregular, your trip to Chichen Itza with children is possible by walking on the most traveled roads with a stroller, preferably with a stroller with large wheels so that it does not get stuck with stones or branches. A stroller can also be very helpful to help you carry all the things like water, diapers, or even if your children want to rest and you want to continue exploring.

2. Rest in the shadows

Under tha shade in Chichen Itza
Under tha shade in Chichen Itza

There are several places with benches and shadows so I recommend stopping from time to time, in that way, children have the opportunity to cool off, drink water, and you can marvel at the sight of the ruins.

3. Refreshing snacks

Within the archaeological zone, you will find several places where they sell, ice pops, ice cream, fruit, among other things. Carry some cash so you can pamper your kids with something refreshing.

4. Wet wipes

Wet wipes are a great help to cool off, or to clean your hands whenever necessary, although there are public toilets, they are usually very crowded and far so you cannot take them to wash their hands every time they get dirty.

5. Extra entertainment

It does not matter if you go from Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, or Merida, the trip is long and it is good that they bring something to entertain themselves, they can watch a movie, play with a Tablet or carry a toy. In the case of the Tablet and electrical devices, you must be careful, since they overheat in the archaeological zone and could malfunction. If you allow them to use them within the archaeological zone, preferably do it in the shade to avoid accidents.

I hope that with these little tips for your next trip to Chichen Itza with children you can go more prepared to enjoy this wonderful place as a family.


Facts about Chichen Itza

Fact 1. A Cenote under the main pyramid of Kukulkan

This is the most recent of our top 10 Facts about Chichen Itza. In August 2015, archaeologists discovered a cenote under the Kukulkan pyramid.

This finding confused the researchers, but for an archaeologist expert in submarine archeology, the answer was simple:

The Mayans knew about the existence of the cenote and built the pyramid over it because the Mayans wanted to represent the universe with their constructions.

The pyramid rises equidistantly between four cenotes, one to the north, another to the south, another to the east, and the fourth one to the west.
This new finding would be the fifth cenote, the “axis mundi“, the point where the Sacred Ceiba grew its roots that reached the underworld, and its branches reached the four cardinal points.

Kukulkan Pyramid Substructures and Cenote

Fact 2. The layered Pyramid of Chichen Itza

Like other pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, constructions of the cities were covered during a second, and sometimes more residential phases.

In this case, the first Pyramid in Chichen Itza was built between the years 500 and 800; and again, by the third and currently visible stage, developed over the years. 1,050 and 1,300.

Fact 3. Ceremonial objects at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote

Various research teams have found ceremonial objects at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote, along with animal and people bones whose ages range from 3 to 55 years.

Its origin, however, is uncertain. There are theories that the Mayas practiced human sacrifices; others believe that in reality, these remains reached the bottom of the cenote as part of funerary rituals that would have arrived thereafter they had died.

Others say that the purpose of throwing living beings was not to cause their death but to get them to intercede with the lords of the underworld.

What they do agree on, is that all these rituals were intended to mediate with the entities of Xibalbá to ensure rain and good harvests.

Quetzal bird

Fact 4. The Sound of the Quetzal

There is an electroacoustic effect that occurs in front of a staircase of the main Pyramid of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza. When a person claps, the sound bounces in the form of a distorted echo and generates a sound that simulates the singing of a Quetzal.

This new attraction was discovered at the end of the twentieth century by the tour guides of the site.

Calendar representation of the Kukulkan Pyramid

Fact 5. The Pyramid of Kukulkan has a total of 365 steps

The temple of Kukulkan has four staircases, of 91 steps each, which is a total sum of 364. With the upper platform, it adds up to 365 in total.

Each step represented the days of the Haab Mayan calendar, which fits perfectly with the calendar we use today, the Gregorian calendar.

Chichén Itzá and the new seven wonders of the world

Fact 5. A World Heritage Wonder

Chichen Itza was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 and in 2007, it was considered one of “The New Seven Wonders of the Modern World”, as part of a private initiative where people chose the sites that interested them the most.

Fact 6. Chichen Itza was bought by an American

Edward Herbert Thompson extracting objects
Edward Herbert Thompson extracting objects

At the beginning of the 20th century, the American Edward Herbert Thompson bought the property where Chichen Itza is located, mainly to drain the Sacred Cenote and extract numerous objects like jewelry and utensils made of gold, copper, and jade.

After various actions from the Mexican government, today it is owned by the State of Yucatan.

Some of the archaeological pieces discovered by Thompson were also returned to Mexico.

Fact 7. The largest Ball Court in Mesoamerica

The Great Ball Court long
The Great Ball Court long

The Ball Court of Chichen Itza is the largest in Mesoamerica, 70 meters wide and 169 meters long.

The idea of this game was to put a rubber ball through the hoop that is on top of the wall, using the elbows, knees, and face.

Fact 8. The descent of the feathered serpent

Kukulkan Pyramid Equinox
Kukulkan Pyramid Equinox

The last, and most well-known of our Facts about Chichen Itza list is the descending serpent.

The design of this pyramid was made by the Mayan architects who so well mastered the knowledge of the stars and in particular that of the sun.

For this reason, they placed the pyramid so that its shadow could be projected on the sides of the staircase, giving shape to the body of one of its deities, Kukulkan, the feathered serpent whose head is sculpted at the foot of the Pyramid.


Chichen Itza buildings

Chichén Itzá has a big extension of territory, so the site can be divided into the following 4 main groups:


Kukulkan Group

The Kukulkan Group is the first set of buildings you see when you enter from the main access and it’s made up by:


Kukulkan Pyramid

Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza
Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza

The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza

The Kukulkan Pyramid, also commonly known as El Castillo (The Castle), is the most impressive building in the Archeological Site of Chichen Itza, and one of the highest of all Mayan architecture.

Kukulkan comes from the words “snake-quetzal” in Yucatec Mayan. The Quetzal is a long-tailed bird found in the region, so Kukulkan can be interpreted as “Feathered Serpent”.

This monumental building is a pyramid of nine staggered bodies 24 meters high, with a staircase on each side and a temple at the top. The decorative motifs of the facade are snakes and jaguars of Toltec influence, which confirms that the construction of the building corresponds to the stage of the greatest flourishing of the Itza culture.

Calendar Building of the Kukulkan Pyramid

The Kukulkán Pyramid in Chichen Itza demonstrates the deep knowledge of mathematics, geometry, acoustics, and astronomy that the Maya possessed. Being an initially agricultural society, the Mayans observed carefully the behavior of the stations, the variations of the trajectories of the Sun and the stars, and combining their knowledge, they managed to register them in the construction of the temple dedicated to their god Kukulkan.

Calendar representation of the Kukulkán Pyramid
Calendar representation of the Kukulkán Pyramid

It’s thought that this pyramid is the representation of the Mayan Calendar: each step is a day of the year, and since each side has 91 steps, multiplied by four sides totaling 364, plus one that represents the platform, we get 365 days of the solar year, so it is thought that the monument was erected in honor of the sun god. Also, if you see the pyramid on one side, the corners of its overlapping platforms add up to 18, which are the months of 20 days of the Mayan Haab Calendar.

Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the Contemporary World

It’s now considered one of the “New Seven Wonders of the Contemporary World” by means of the New Open World Corporation a global election based on the internet and in which theoretically anyone with access to the network could vote. It’s worth mentioning that it was the Pyramid of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza and not the archaeological site as a whole that was the winner.

Chichén Itzá and the new seven wonders of the world
Chichén Itzá and the new seven wonders of the world

Three-layered Pyramid

The Pyramid you see now is the third “layer” of buildings with a total of three structures that correspond to different time periods: the oldest one was built between the years 500 and 800, then a second one was built on top of it. The third Pyramid in Chichen Itza, the one you can see right now was built over the years 1,050 and 1,300.

The Mayans didn’t destroy buildings because they were sacred, instead, they built on top of them.

This second Pyramid has an entrance through a narrow passage by one of the sides of the north stairway. A jaguar painted red with inlaid jade was discovered which was probably used as a throne, it’s now closed to the public just like climbing to the top of the Pyramid.

Kukulkán Pyramid Substructures
Kukulkán Pyramid Substructures and Cenote
  1. Cenote.
  2. The first construction was built between the years 500 and 800.
  3. The second construction was built on top of the first one.
  4. The Pyramid as you see it today.

Mayan Equinox in the Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza

This phenomenon called Equinox can be observed twice a year at sunset, on March 21 and September 21 (and the two days before and after these dates), the building is the scene of the equinoctial phenomenon called “light and shadow”.

Kukulkan Pyramid Equinox
Shadow on the Kukulkan Pyramid in the Equinox

During these days, the sun projects seven triangles of light that slowly slide from top to bottom of The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza; as time goes by, a serpent seems to descend from the temple and the last ray of light is projected onto the head of the feathered serpent at the base of the stairway. The phenomenon lasts approximately 3 hours before sunset.

This effect is due to the Earth’s own movements, rotation on its axis and around the sun, as well as the variant of its ecliptic, and the tilt of the Earth’s axis. Because of this, we’ll be able to observe that the sun is appearing in different positions.

The Mayan considered all these variables and with great attention observed the possible phenomena of light and shadow generated during each day of the year. They built the Kukulkan Pyramid taking into account all these variables.

Read the entire article on the Chichen Itza Equinox.

Inside the Pyramid of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza

Kukulkán pyramid base entrance
Kukulkan pyramid base entrance

In April 1931, seeking to confirm the hypothesis that the structure of the Kukulkan Pyramid was built on another older pyramid, excavation and exploration work began. By doing this they found a box with objects of coral, obsidian, and turquoise inlays next to human remains.

ChacMool inside the Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza
ChacMool inside the Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza

Then a figure of Chac Mool was found inside the Substructure’s Temple with a nacre shell on his nails, teeth, and eyes. The room where the discovery was made is known as the room of offerings or north chamber.

Only a few meters away, a second enclosure called the Sacrificial Chamber was discovered, where more human bones were found.

Jade Jaguar in Chichen Itza
Jade Jaguar in Chichen Itza

Also, a sculpture of a jaguar was found. This is a red sculpture with 74 jade incrustations that simulate the characteristic spots of the jaguar; the eyes are simulated with the same stone and the fangs and teeth are painted white flint.

Physical description of The Castle in Chichen Itza

This construction is composed of a base with a square floor plan of 55.5 m per side. It has nine staggered and sloping bodies that reach a total height of 24 m, decorated with slightly protruding rectangles that look similar to Zapotec culture and El Tajin architecture.

Access to the temple was through any of the four staircases bordered by rafters, the north one has heads of feathered serpents.

The temple on the top’s main entrance consists of three gaps formed by two serpentine columns, whose heads are the bases and the tails support the lintels that were made of wood. The sanctuary or chamber with vaulted ceiling has two pilasters decorated with bas-reliefs that supported the roof; behind this chamber, there’s a narrow gallery with three doors that lead to the west, south, and east stairways.

The temple has a sloping and smooth vertical wall; then follows the frieze between two molded cornices, whose central strip has three sunken panels, one of them with a Chac mask or god of rain. The jambs of the doors and the interior pilasters show figures of warriors and other richly attired characters.

An interesting fact is that the Kukulkan Temple is not perfectly aligned in the center. At the top of the main staircase, there’s a bigger space between the last step and the wall. If you see it from the west side, you will notice how the door isn’t aligned with the temple and the top niche bit it is aligned with the staircase.

Location of El Castillo in Chichen Itza

El Castillo in Chichen Itza is the first thing you see when entering Chichen Itza after a short road. It’s in the middle of the main square surrounded by the Great Ball Court, Tzompantli, Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars, Venus Temple, and the Warriors Temple.


Great Ball Court

Great ball court in Chichen Itza
Great ball court in Chichen Itza

The Great Ball Court in Chichen Itza shows the arrival and development of the Itzá people, the evolution of religious ideas, and a style called “Maya-Yucateco” because it’s mixed with elements of the original Puuc zone. This style combines architecture, sculpture, and painting in the function of militarism and the cult of Kukulkan, which began to spread in the Mayan region in the Classic period, producing a rebirth of culture and society in the lands of Yucatán.

The Great Ball Court rests on a platform that supports the pyramid and the other structures. These types of ball courts were a common feature of a remarkable ritual practiced among the Mesoamerican societies. Here it received the name “pok ta pok”, which perhaps originated in the term puctalpuctal which means “to squat several times”. In Chichen Itza there were about ten ball games. This being the main one, also considered the largest in Mesoamerica.

This specific court exhibits very interesting acoustics like a conversation at one end can be heard 135 m away at the other and like in many other buildings not only in Chichen Itza, a clap produces multiple loud echoes.

Chichen Itza Great Ball Court’s side panels

The central panels of the sidewalks show a procession of warrior ballplayers, seven on each side of a skull-shaped circular central motif, a symbol of death. First of the group on the right is beheaded, with one knee on the ground and out of his neck comes the blood in the form of serpents. The first of the group on the left is the one making the sacrifice, carrying a knife in one hand and the head of the beheaded in the other.

All the characters are richly dressed; with large and precious feathers on their helmets and behind their backs, cap earmuffs and bar nose rings, arm protectors, wide belts like palms in front of them, knee pads, precious discs behind the waistband, sandals with a heel, kilt, pectorals in the shape of a cut neck, zoomorphic insignias that carried in their hand, zoomorphic helmets, etc. The whole composition is full of floral motifs, vegetable branches, etc., to fill in the gaps between the characters.

Chichen Itza's Great Ball Court's side panels
Chichen Itza’s Great Ball Court’s side panels

Of course, this scene of the beheading of one of the players is related to human sacrifice, perhaps in relation to the fertility of the earth, water and sun, as well as with KukuIcan or Quetzalcoatl who was the god of agriculture, time, year and creator of men, a new humanity and the Fifth Sun. This concept was introduced by the Itza, which had customs and cultural elements adopted from other parts, such as the nosepiece of Huasteca type, the pectoral of the wind in the form of a cut snail, the belt yokes, zoomorphic handbags, the decapitation where the blood comes out in the form of serpents from Aparicio Veracruz, etc.

The Ball Game itself, with its panels decorated in bas-relief, is similar to those found in El Tajin, Veracruz; the realistic snakes that finish the panels at the ends are a symbol of Quetzalcoatl, whose cult originated in Xochicalco. We can conclude that these ideas and people who came to Chichen Itza, began to influence the society and culture of the original Mayans who were settled there.

Physical description of The Great Ball Court in Chichen Itza

The Grand Ball Court has a rectangular plan of 168 m long by 70 wide, it consists of a central corridor or court bounded by two parallel platforms, one in the east and one in the west; the central corridor communicates with two other lateral corridors, one in the north and one in the south, limited by walls that leave four entrances, all this forming the “I” shape, common to other ball games in Mesoamerica.

The platforms are 95 m long with a wide stairway to ascend to the upper part, where there are three small almost square structures, perhaps temples or rooms for priests, judges, players, and people of the nobility, to contemplate the game.

Great Ball Court Pano
Great Ball Court Pano

Each platform was composed of a stool decorated with bas-relief panels, one in the center and one at each end, followed by a vertical wall 8 m high, in whose central part was a stone ring, decorated with an entwined feathered serpentine, the symbol of Kukulkan or Quetzalcoatl.

Chichen Itza’s Great Ball Court North and South Temples

The north and south sections of the ball game court, are limited by a medium height wall and by two temple-like constructions. The southern one simply called the South Temple is unfortunately very destroyed.

The North Temple, also known as the Temple of the Bearded Man is of smaller dimensions and has been considered the sanctuary for the excellence of the rites of fertility, associated with the heat of the Sun and the fecundity of the earth.

Chichen Itza’s Great Ball Court Temple of the Jaguar

Top of the Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza
Top of the Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza

In the upper and lower parts of the southern side of the eastern face there are two lavish temples; the one above, called the Temple of the Jaguar, looks towards the field and is distinguished by its columns with descending serpents. The lower temple has its facade facing the outside of the court where you can still see a jaguar throne that made sure that at the end of the ceremony the head of the beheaded would be placed on the wall of skulls, or Tzompantli, a construction that bounded on the east to the great building of the court.

Location of The Great Ball Court in Chichen Itza

You can’t miss the Great Ball Court to your left when you first enter this Archaeological Site. My recommendation is to first admire and take some pictures of the Kukulkan Pyramid, and then turn left to visit The Great Ball Court.


Temple of the Jaguar

Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza
Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza was built between the years 1000 and 1150. It takes its name from a sequence of jaguars located in front of the structure, it consists of different layers that are intricately carved and show different types of images. Two gigantic feathered serpents formed the columns in the entrance hall, while the interior walls were richly decorated in stone.

Physical description of The Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza
To construct this building, the long stairway of the eastern platform of the Great Ball Court had to be made, as well as the small structure at its southern end, all of which were built after the Temples of the North and the South.

In order to reach the top level, which is about 10 m high, a pyramidal base and a narrow ladder attached to its southern side were built.

Top of The Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza

The top of the Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza is supported by solid pillars shaped like serpents covered with elaborated sculpted ornaments. In the interior, the walls and roofs were covered with drawings and paintings, representing human figures, battles, houses, trees, and scenes of domestic life.

Bottom of The Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza

This building and a staircase were constructed on the base facing to the exterior plaza with reliefs alluding to the god Kukulkan, which looks towards the west. The façade consists of a sloping and smooth vertical wall, a slightly protruding strip and a frieze between two molded panels, fully decorated with bas-reliefs based on a stone mosaic.

The front of the building has its walls decorated with warriors and quads of the man-bird-serpent, as well as three gaps formed by two pilasters, which also display figures of warriors and panels with the representation of the god Kukulkan as lord of the earth and the vegetation.

The entire interior is decorated, with rows of warriors wearing atlatl, headdresses of feathers, butterfly pectorals, belts with rear discs, padded sleeves, etc. There you can see a man sitting on a jaguar throne, similar to the one between the two pilasters of the building, and a war chief with a plumed serpent as a background. The rest of the composition is filled with hooks, volutes and interlaces, some vegetables, but within a more calligraphic style that seems to indicate that the original aesthetic sense is being lost.

Temple of the Jaguar from far away
Temple of the Jaguar from far away

Location of the Temple of the Jaguar in Chichen Itza

The bottom part of the Temple of Jaguar is located on one of the long sides of the Great Ball Court with its front looking towards the Grand Plaza with the Tzompantli platform on the front-right side followed by the Eagles and Jaguars Temple. On your front-right, you can see the Kukulkan Pyramid.

The upper part of the Temple of the Jaguar is located on the same long side of the Great Ball Court as the bottom part but on the upper part. This Temple is looking towards the Great Ball Court’s field with the South Temple on the left, and the Temple of the Bearded man on the right.


The Great Ball Court’s South Temple

Great Ball Courts South Temple in Chichen Itza
Great Ball Courts South Temple in Chichen Itza

The Great Ball Court’s South Temple in Chichen Itza is unfortunately very destroyed, probably due to its wide dimensions. It had pilasters to support the roof that served to protect the high hierarchy from the Sun and rainy days. 

Built after the ball court, this building has a rectangular floor and measures 25 m long by 8 wide. It’s also composed of a slope with light molding, frieze, and inverted cornice; it also has seven entryways, formed by six pilasters decorated with figures of warriors carrying hieroglyphics indicating their names at the base with the effigy of the man-bird-serpent or Kukulkan emerging from the jaws of a feathered serpent.

Great Ball Court's South Temple in Chichen Itza up close
Great Ball Court’s South Temple in Chichen Itza up close

Location of the Great Ball Court’s South Temple in Chichen Itza

The Great Ball Court’s South Temple is located at one of the ends of the Great Ball Court, as its name says, on the south side. In front of it, all the way on the other side of the Court you will find the Temple of the Bearded Man, and on its right, the Temple of the Jaguar.


Temple of the Bearded Man

Great Ball Courts South Temple in Chichen Itza
Great Ball Courts South Temple in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Bearded Man is perhaps the best-preserved of the buildings that surround the Great Ball Court, the Temple gets its name from a strange bearded man who heads the scene. It is based on a wall of three stepped bodies that, together with the staircase sits on a platform. 

The effect of the Itza people and their religious ideas can be seen in this building, which was subsequently built into the Grand Ball Court, attaching to the north wall that enclosed it. It’s also known as the Grand Ball Court’s North Temple measuring 10 m long and 6 m wide, with slanted walls and a central staircase facing south. The Temple sits on top of a platform 14 m long and 8 m wide.

It consists of a single chamber or room with an inverted roof. In its façade there is a slope that ends in a slight protruding molding; then a vertical wall comes up to the height of the lintels that are supported by two columns with bas-reliefs. It’s followed by a board strip that ends in a molded cornice and then comes the smooth frieze, finished off in another inverted crown with molding.

It has flagstones decorated with trees that have their roots in the earth, with plant branches that climb spiraling on its trunks. Butterflies and birds flutter around the trees, while others stand on the branches. Above these trees, Quetzalcoatl or Kukulkan appears as man-bird-serpent with his face emerging from the jaws of a serpent with a forked tongue and feathered body.

Introduction of a new architectural feature in The Temple of the Bearded Man

The Temple of the Bearded Man introduces a new architectural feature, the slope and vertical wall that was common in Xochicalco, Morelos; which becomes of general use in Chichen Itza also presented other modalities, such as the columns decorated with bas-reliefs, the high jambs with figures of warriors, the inferior panel with the effigy of the man-bird-serpent, and the Mayan vault totally decorated with a variety of everyday and religious scenes.

The back wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man

In a part of the back wall, there is a scene in which the deity Kukulkan appears seated on a jaguar throne, marked by an oval formed by a feathered serpent; on each side of the god, there are seven characters, chiefly warriors with an atlatl or spear, darts and rear discs in the belt, one of them looks like a chief with a snake in the background.

Wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza
Wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza

The second row of The Temple of the Bearded Man

In the next row, you find the priest and ruler, with a robe clothed with The third or precious stones, with seven people sitting on his left, all of whom have butterfly pecs; on his right, six other dignitaries are also seated.

The third row of the wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man

Below them, there’s another row of individuals, seven on the left, two of them in eagle costumes, and seven on the right, two of them standing on the roof of a house or temple, inside which there are two characters seated.

Last row of the wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man

Finally, below, you can see the Lord and priest Kukulkan dead, dressed in his tunic of chalchihuites and with a two-headed serpent that starts from his waist towards the head and feet, as if to protect him; on either side of him, there are two seated individuals, one of them as if coming out of a snail, with vegetal interlacing.

The whole set is related to the Itzaes and Kukulkan, with the god that appears in the upper part or the sky, with the lord-priest who bore the same name and who relied on warriors, nobles, and priests on the earth, guarded by the deity and the gods of the four directions, perhaps the Bacabes or Pauahtun.

The wardrobe of the characters is the same as of the Great Ball Game: cotton-padded sleeves, nose bar, back discs on the belt, feathered headdresses, eagle or bird costumes, butterfly breastplate, as well as vegetal interlacing and scrolls.

Location of the Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza is located on the north side of the Great Ball Court. In front of it, all the way on the other side of the Court you will find the Great Ball Court’s South Temple, and on its left, the Temple of the Jaguar.


Tzompantli

Tzompantli in Chichen Itza
Tzompantli in Chichen Itza

The inhabitants placed on the platform of the Tzompantli in Chichen Itza pointy poles on in which the bleeding heads of the enemies were threaded, four by four. Archeologists found buried figures of the Chac Mool in the Tzompantli of Chichen Itza, as well as skulls with offerings and a broken ring from the Great Ball Court.

The cult of the dead, one of the oldest of humanity, is present among the Mayans in this interesting platform, considered “a true monument to the cruelty of war”. The name Tzompantli means in Nahuatl “skull wall”. 

Tzompantli and Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá
Tzompantli and Kukulkán in Chichen Itza

Physical description of the Tzompantli of Chichen Itza

In its structure, shaped like a “T”, the base of the Tzompantli supports three panels decorated with skulls and divided by moldings. Those at the ends have skull reproductions in high relief; the one in the center is wider and has two rows of skulls. In total, more than 500 skulls carved in high relief have been found.

The Tzompantli in Chichen Itza is a large rectangular platform that measures about 60 m long by 12 wide, with a projection in the center that gives it a T shape. It is composed of a very small slope at the bottom, a central strip decorated with skulls that run in three horizontal rows, and at the top, a slightly edged-out strip with another row of skulls.

Location of the Tzompantli in Chichen Itza

The Tzomplantli in Chichen Itza is located in the Grand Plaza between the Great Ball Court and the Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars.


Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars

Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza
Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza got its name from reliefs showing Eagles and Jaguars devouring human hearts, this Temple is the smallest of the set of structures that form “the grate level plane” which includes: the Kukulkán Temple, Venus Temple, and the Great Ball Court.

It’s very likely that there would be banners in the form of jaguars with spotted skin, such as those found in the Sacred Cenote. It’s also assumed that on this platform there was a stockade showcasing skulls of slaughtered enemies. The outgoing body has representations of eagles and warriors that carry human heads in their hands. 

Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza from far
Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza from far

Physical description of the Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars

The Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza is a square base with four staircases on each side bordered by balustrades and decorated with bodies of feathered serpents, which change their slope to form a cube in the upper part from which the heads of these serpents emerge.

The base has a slope, followed by a vertical wall with protruding panels and a cornice board. In the outer panels, there are reliefs of eagles eating human hearts and in the sunken spaces, beautiful representations of spotted jaguars, also devouring human hearts; you can find Kukulkan or Venus in the form of a recumbent warrior with a spear in his hand.

Location of the Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza is located in the Grand Plaza between the Tzompantli and the Venus Temple.


The Venus Temple

Venus Temple in Chichen Itza
Venus Temple in Chichen Itza

It´s called the Venus Temple in Chichen Itza because there are representations in bas-relief of the planet Venus in its outer panels in the form of a Mayan Year Bundle next to a half flower with vanes in the petals; there’s also the symbol of Pop or braided mat that means lordship and power. The Venus Temple is also known as the Tomb of Chac Mool because its sculpture was found in its interior.

The stone bas-reliefs still conserve remains of red, blue, and yellow paint that adorned the contours of the representation of the “morning star”, one of the manifestations of Kukulkan-Quetzalcoatl most admired by pre-Hispanic cultures.

In the sunken space appears Kukulcan or Venus coming out of the jaws of a serpent with feathers, forked tongue, and jaguar claws.

Venus Temple in Chichen Itza and Kukulkán Pyramid
Venus Temple and Kukulkán Pyramid in Chichen Itza

Physical description of the Venus Temple

The Venus Temple in Chichen Itza is a base with a square floor plan of more than 25 m on each side, with four staircases bordered by balustrades ending in a cube, from which a snakehead is projected.

The base is composed of a slope, a vertical wall with projecting panels that leave a sunken space, and a cornice board as a finishing touch; the total height of the base is 4 m. On the cornice board, there is a feathered serpent with fish among its undulations whose head protrudes from the cube of the staircase’s arch.

Location of the Venus Temple in Chichen Itza

The Venus Temple in Chichen Itza is located in the Grand Plaza in front of the main side of the Kukulkan Pyramid, where the snakeheads are found, and on the side of the Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars.


The Sacred Cenote

Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza
Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza

The Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza stands out as one of the distinctive features of this Mayan City. This Cenote is also called Chenku or Cenote de los Sacrificios – Cenote of the Sacrifices, the latter name is due to XVI century stories that they claimed that virgin women were thrown into it, and according to a prophecy they would one day return alive.

The Mayan Peninsula has most of its water currents underground, mainly because of the limestone surface that quickly absorbs rainwater. The Mayans called these natural wells ts’onot, a word that transformed into Spanish led to Cenote.

The use of the cenote for rites and sacrifices took place mainly in the Classic (800 AD-1100 AD) and the Post-Classic (1100 AD-1550 AD), from where a lot of archaeological objects and human remains were found.

The Classic Period is associated with the splendor of this City and the Post-Classic represents the use of the Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza as a place of worship and pilgrimage.

Physical description of the Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza

The Sacred Cenote is a well 50 m in diameter in the north-south direction and 60.50 in the east-west direction, with almost vertical walls that widen towards the water level, forming limestone cavities. It’s 22 m from the edge to the water level, and from there to the bottom there are about 20 meters of water with muddy sediments that sometimes reach a thickness of 4 meters, especially in the center.

Sacred Cenote building in Chichén Itzá
The Sacred Cenote building in Chichen Itza

There was a building composed of two rooms, each with an entrance to the east and west, which was later modified. The west room was converted into a Temazcal or steam bath to purify the victims destined for sacrifice. And an irregular platform was also attached, almost on the edge of the well, from which perhaps they were thrown into the Sacred Cenote. There are carved stones on this platform similar to those of the Great Ball Court, this suggests that the practice of sacrifices in the Cenote was from later times, although other offerings were previously made to the water god.

The greenish color of its waters is due to the algae and microorganisms and also to the shade of the vegetation that grows around it.

The rocky edge of the well, especially its south side, was suitably conditioned, to the extent of showing some sort of two-level bleachers, perhaps for the better accommodation of the public that participated in the ceremonies.

Location of the Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza

The Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza is located 200 m away from the Venus Temple with the Kukulkan Pyramid on the opposite side of the platform.


The 1000 Columns Group

The 1000 Columns Group is located south-east of the Kukulkán Group and its main building is the Temple of the Warriors. This area is known for its many columns, it doesn’t really have 1000, but it sure seems like it.


Temple of the Warriors

Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza
Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza was built around the year 1200 and it’s one of the most beautiful and well-preserved buildings on this site. Chichen Itza has tens of buildings, but when people think of this site, they always think of The Castle, The Sacred Cenote, The Great Ball Court, and of course, the Temple of the Warriors.

In general, its construction has characteristics similar to the temple Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, in Tula, the capital of the Toltec state; mainly because it was built by the relatively new Mayan-Toltec culture that was born here in Chichen Itza.

Chac Mool on the Temple of the Warriors in Chichén Itzá
Chac Mool on the Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza

The same general concept of the pyramid that supports a great superior sanctuary, the same presence of a Chac Mool in the entrance, the same repetitive ornamentation of Eagles and Jaguars in the steps, the same pillars in the form of a serpent with its head on the ground and mouth open, while his body forms the shaft and the tail rises to support the lintel of the entrance porch. Finally, at the foot of the pyramid, are the same type of columns with engravings of warriors.

The Temple of the Warriors of Chichen Itza had been preceded, just like El Castillo, by an earlier construction that was found within the current Temple. The first temple had also a Chac Mool inside, and the vaulted styles used by the Mayans.


Physical description of the Temple of the Warriors

This building is composed of a square base that measures about 40 m per side. It has stepped bodies composed of slope and board-cornice decorated with bas-reliefs in which warriors, eagles, and jaguars are seen devouring human hearts.

The stairway faces the west and has reliefs of feathered serpents whose heads protrude. There is a square-shaped temple on the base, 21 m per side, leaving a wide platform in front with pilasters decorated with figures of gods and warriors that were used to support roof beams.

Serpent from the Temple of the Warriors in Chichén Itzá
The serpent from the Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza

The facade of the Temple of the Warriors is composed of a slope and vertical wall, like a frieze interrupted by the main entrance, and decorated on each side by a board with three overlapping Chac masks, one with the effigy of the god Kukulkan emerging from the jaws of a feathered serpent with forked tongue and three other Chac masks in the corner, one above the other and with their curved and protruding noses. Then another smooth frieze between two molded cornices, ending in battlements on the roof, of which nothing remains.

On the platform and in front of the main entrance there is a Chac Mool, that although it was considered a god for a long time, it was rather considered as an intermediary between the Supreme God and men, so he could take the offerings they made.

Location of the Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza is located in the Grand Plaza right next to the Temple of the Tables and to the right of the main side of the Kukulkan Pyramid.


Temple of the Tables

Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza
Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza got its name because of the overlapping levels that give the appearance of plateaus, this temple built next to the one of the Warriors, is a small pyramid of four levels that previously culminated with a temple with two serpent columns.

Although it’s not preserved in its entirety, the first level of the frieze is still noticeable, which is carved in stone and placed on the ground in front of the staircase leading to the temple. It shows a procession of jaguars among trees and spears. On the second level, a plumed serpent is carved.

Temple of the Tables and Frieze in Chichen Itza
Temple of the Tables and Frieze in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza was recently restored during the 90s. During these excavations a major sub-temple was discovered buried inside the external structure, a large polychrome wall of feathered serpents was painted on the interior walls in vivid colors of blue, yellow, red, and marked by charcoal lines.

Like The Castle, the Temple of the Warriors, the Jaguars, the Group of the Thousand Columns, the Tzompantli, the Venus Platform, and the Great Ball Court, this building was built during the Toltec influence in Chichen Itza, that is, between 900 and 1200 AD.

Frieze in front of the Temple of the Tables

Frieze in front of the Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza
Frieze in front of the Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza

You can find a frieze that has been placed in front of the Temple of the Tables that show a feathered serpent on the top level, and the procession of jaguars, trees, and spear bundles on the lower one.

Location of the Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Tables in Chichen Itza is located in the Grand Plaza right next to the Warriors Temple and in front of a long Frieze.


Group of the Thousand Columns

Group of the Thousand Columns

The Group of the Thousand Columns in Chichen Itza is actually a temple, a very beautiful and impressive structure connected to the Temple of the Warriors that gets its name because it looks like it has lots of columns, but actually, there are only about 200 columns of them.

This is what remains of what probably supported a flat roof, according to Toltec custom. Also, in the Group of the Thousand Columns, as in El

Castillo and other constructions of Chichen Itza, the typically Mayan pyramidal structure adds new elements, formed by colonnades of surprising lightness and iconographic elements related to the military orders and the cult of the Feathered Serpent.

Some people think that the Group of the Thousand Columns symbolizes that inside the human being along with the thousands of psychological defects that we carry, we also carry different aspects from warriors that help us fight the evil we carry inside.

Physical description of The Group of the Thousand Columns

The Group of the Thousand Columns is a vast plaza that has the shape of an irregular quadrilateral, about 150 m long, with some structures on the east side and in the south, including the so-called Mercado (the Market), which closes the plaza on those sides. On the west side, there is a colonnade formed by four rows of columns, made of stone drums, on which the beams that supported the vaults rested, and which ran northward through the portico of the Temple of the Warriors; while on the north side ran another porch with five rows of columns, seated on a platform 2.20 m high.

Thousand Columns in Chichén Itzá
Thousand Columns in Chichén Itzá

Location of the Group of the Thousand Columns in Chichen Itza

The Group of the Thousand Columns in Chichen Itza is formed from different platforms located on the left side of the Temple of the Warriors and behind it.

Chichen Itza North Pillars

North Pillars in Chichén Itzá
North Pillars in Chichen Itza

The North Pillars are part of the main set of columns that are on the side of the Temple of the Warriors. They are decorated in their four faces with reliefs of warriors, priests, and sometimes prisoners, as well as squares bearing the effigy of the man-bird-serpent or Kukulkan.

It is composed of numerous pillars that once supported the roof of spacious galleries, roofed with perishable materials. It’s a large complex that is located around a wide square and is formed by a series of pillars aligned in parallel. Each section of the colonnade was built in different stages. The North Colonnade features bas-reliefs of warriors on its pillars.

Location of the Chichen Itza North Pillars

The Group of the Chichen Itza North Pillars is a long set of pillars located behind the Temple of the Warriors and ends with the Temple of the Sculpted Columns.

The Temple of Sculpted Columns

Temple of Sculpted Columns in Chichén Itzá
Temple of Sculpted Columns in Chichén Itzá

The temple of sculpted columns is a small building that consists of a gallery with an interior corridor that leads to an altar with a Chac Mool. It also has numerous columns of rich reliefs with representations of some of the most important personalities of the time. A part of the top panel is covered with a pattern of X and O and is shown in front of the structure.

Location of the Temple of Sculpted Columns in Chichen Itza

The Temple of Sculpted Columns in Chichen Itza is located at the end of the North Pillars.


The Market

The Market in Chichen Itza
The Market in Chichen Itza

The Market in Chichen Itza is difficult to specify if it was precisely built to be a real Market. However, its appearance suggests it.

The columns supported a roof of perishable material. As in the Thousand Columns, it is considered that the friezes restored in the Market allow having a perception less threatening than the jaguars and serpents of the Temple of the Warriors. This is the reason why it has been thought that in this area the use of buildings was converted from ceremonial to utilitarian.

Physical description of the Market in Chichen Itza

This structure consists of a platform 80 m long and 15 m wide, with a central stairway bordered by tiles, which allows access to an open porch at the front, but closed behind and to the sides, with a row of alternating columns and pilasters that supported the vaulted ceiling. A central door leads to a square patio, 17 m per side, surrounded by 24 columns built with stone drums and capitals, the highest in the area.

The facade of the portico had a slope and vertical wall cut by a horizontal strip at the height of the beams; and next came a frieze between two molded cornices, whose central strip was decorated with groups of columns.

The facade ended in battlements of cut snails. Near the central door of the portico there is a terraced platform, with a molding decorated with feathered serpents and a slope with a procession of warriors; also attached to the walls is a bench with an inclined backrest.

Location of the Market in Chichen Itza

The Market in Chichen Itza is located in front of the North Pillars and to the left of the Temple of Sculpted Columns.


The Ossuary Group

The Ossuary Group is located south of the Kukulkán Group and its main building is The Ossuary. This area is mostly ignored by visitors because it’s on the way to the Observatory, but you can visit the less known buildings like the Tomb Platform and Chichanchob.

Here’s the list of buildings you can find in this group:


The Ossuary

The Ossuary in Chichen Itza
The Ossuary in Chichen Itza

The Ossuary in Chichen Itza is also known as the Great Priest’s Tomb. This structure measures more than 10 meters high and it’s made up of nine staggered bodies very similar to the Kukukan Pyramid, to such a degree of resembling a replica, with the difference of having less height and a frieze covered with mythological reliefs decorated in its corners with the effigy of the god Chaac similar to the ones found in The Warriors and Venus Temple.

The Ossuary in Chichen Itza upper part
The Ossuary in Chichen Itza upper part

This structure is part of the group of buildings that with the Tomb Platform, the Sacbe Number 15, and the Xtoloc Cenote, repeat the architectural pattern found in the Kukulkan Pyramid, the Temple of Venus, the Sacbe Number 1, and the Sacred Cenote.

In the upper part of the Ossuary, between the first two carved serpents, there is an entrance lined with stone, which descends vertically to the base of the pyramid, beyond a set of stone stairs and entering 12 meters deep into a cave where seven tombs were discovered along with jade objects, copper bells, rock crystals and shells.

An interesting aspect of this structure is that when going down to the tombs, there’s an entry through a natural tunnel that the natives participating in the first explorations assured measured more than 20 kilometers and that it goes into another nearby Mayan city, probably Yaxuná. According to tradition, this tunnel or cavern represents the gate between the world of the dead and paradise.

The Ossuary in Chichen Itza from the side
The Ossuary in Chichen Itza from the side

Location of the Ossuary in Chichen Itza

The Ossuary in Chichen Itza is part of the Central Group, and it’s the first big structure you’ll see when coming from the Kukulkan Pyramid. Right in front of it is a round platform, the Venus Platform, and then the Tomb Platform.


The Tomb Platform

Tomb Platform in Chichen Itza
Tomb Platform in Chichen Itza

The Tomb Platform in Chichen Itza, also known as 3C4, has three chambers that contained human remains, which is the reason why it was later called Tomb Platform. In the first of the chambers, there were two skeletons in very poor condition belonging to male individuals and some fragmented vessels. In the second chamber, another two damaged male skeletons where found, in addition to two broken vessels, two jade objects, a copper rattle, a rock crystal, and many shell ornaments which make archeologists think that they had been part of a mask.

Physical description of the Tomb Platform

The structure is 7.8 m from north to south by 5.6 m from east to west, and 1.60 m high, topped by a cornice-frieze arrangement of intertwined snakes in relief. Another feature that gives particularity to the Tomb Platform is the existence of six columns that measure 1.90 meters from the upper level of the structure.

Location of the Tomb Platform in Chichen Itza

Tomb and Venus Platform in Chichen Itza
Tomb and Venus Platform in Chichen Itza

The Tomb Platform in Chichen Itza is in the Central Group, and it’s the last 4 structures aligned in the following order: The Tomb Platform, the Venus Platform, a round Platform, and the Ossuary.


Chichanchob

Chichanchob in Chichen Itza
Chichanchob in Chichen Itza

Chichanchob in Chichen Itza is the largest and best-preserved of the four buildings that surround the plaza or main plain. Chichanchob translates as “small holes” from the Mayan chi’ich’ichan, meaning “small”, and ch’ob, “hole”, perhaps because of the small holes in its raised crest. It’s also commonly known as Red House “Casa Colorada”, because of a strip painted in red inside the vestibule or first bay.

The Red House in Chichen Itza’s Ball Court

This structure corresponds to the Puuc style, although later itzáes built a small ball game attached to the rear wall or the eastern side of the structure.

Chichanchob in Chichen Itza from the back
Chichanchob in Chichen Itza Back side

The inscription “final of the one tun” was found inside the Chichanchob building which refers to the year 850, this allows to establish the antiquity of the building.

This monument is formed by a vestibule which is accessed by three entrances, and three rooms located at the back. The facade, of great simplicity, has smooth walls, only two moldings, and two crests in the upper part.

Physical description of Chichanchob in Chichen Itza

This Red House is composed of a rectangular platform with rounded corners that reaches a height of 7 meters in the form of a slope ending with a protruding molding. The base measures 22.50 m in length by 18m in width, and in the central part of its west side, there is a simple staircase 9.60 m wide, which allows access to a temple located at the top.

The Chichanchob Temple is set on a podium composed of two moldings and a central strip decorated with stone lattice, interrupted by three staircases that give access to the vestibule or first room.

It consists of two bays, one that serves as a vestibule and the other as a sanctuary with three rooms, roofed with a Mayan vault.

Chichanchob Crest in Chichen Itza
Chichanchob Crest in Chichen Itza

The facade of the Chichanchob temple is smooth and with well-cut stones; it has a frieze between two molded cornices, all of which reaches the height of 3.70 m.

It has two crestings: One of them is old and original, placed in the central part of the ceiling with an opening in the base and decoration of frets between cornices; and the other which was later built, placed in front of the facade with masks of the god Chac on the axis of the doors and with interspersed frets.

Location of Chichanchob in Chichen Itza

Chichanchob in Chichen Itza is part of other buildings in a small plaza located on the way from the Ossuary group, to the Observatory.


House of the Deer

Casa del Venado
Casa del Venado

The House of the Deer in Chichen Itza is nearly gone, but it has very similar architectural guidelines to those of Chichanchob. It’s on a platform or basement with rounded corners and a smooth facade; frieze between moldings and cresting on the front without any decoration. It’s part of a plaza that contains Chichanchob, and probably a residential complex associated with the Ossuary.

There is very little left of the House of the Deer from what was the original structure: more than half is now collapsed and only one full room is conserved. The entrance to another that no longer exists. Above the ceiling, you can hardly see the remains of what should have been the cresting.

The name is due to the fact that, according to tradition, inside the House of the Dear, a painting of a deer was found on stucco work, unfortunately, it already disappeared. It’s thought that the building suffered the passage of a waterway that washed away the stucco on the walls where the paint could have been.

In addition, in front of the House of the Dear, near Chichanchob and some trees, you can see the remains of some elongated buildings that were perhaps temples similar to the two that still remain standing.

Location of the House of the Deer in Chichen Itza

The House of the Deer in Chichen Itza is in a square plaza to the south of the Ossuary and before arriving at the Observatory.


Xtoloc Temple

Xtoloc Temple in Chichen Itza
Xtoloc Temple in Chichen Itza

The Xtoloc Temple in Chichen Itza receives its name because it’s located next to the Cenote with the same name, the second largest cenote in the center of Chichen Itza.

It probably was used in religious ceremonies, perhaps related to the Cenote. Its construction dates from 900 to 1200. There are sculptured representations of warriors and priests on the pillars of the temple.

Physical description of The Xtoloc Temple

The Xtoloc Temple has an altar in the interior of the third chamber, originally decorated with bas-reliefs of plants, birds, and mythological scenes. A container of offerings with human remains was found beneath the floor.

The facade faces west and it includes a simple altar, a path of stone slabs, and a natural rock outcropping, marked by rows of cut stone.

Location of The Xtoloc Temple in Chichen Itza

The central entrance of the Xtoloc Temple in Chichen Itza is in front of a Cenote with the same name on the Sacbe 15, that goes from the Group of the Thousand Columns plaza to the Ossuary group of buildings.


Xtoloc Cenote

The Xtoloc Cenote in Chichen Itza gets its name from the Mayan word for “iguana” and it was given this name because they inhabit the region. We can still admire them in many buildings throughout other Mayan Archeological Sites like Tulum and Uxmal.

On the way to the Ossuary group, you’ll find this beautiful Cenote that although of smaller diameter than the Sacred Cenote was very important for the population of Chichen Itza as a source of water.

Around the Xtoloc Cenote there are small temples like the one that bears its name (Xtoloc Temple); there are also columns with reliefs found lying around.

Location of The Xtoloc Temple and Cenote in Chichen Itza

The Xtoloc Cenote is in front of a Temple with the same name on the Sacbe 15, that goes from the Group of the Thousand Columns plaza to the Ossuary group of buildings.


The Nunnery Group

The Nunnery Group is located south of the Ossuary Group and its main building is The Nunnery. This is the last of the groups we can visit, there’s another group known as Old Chichén south of this one, but it’s closed to the public.

The buildings you can find in the Nunnery Group are:


The Observatory

The Observatory in Chichen Itza
The Observatory in Chichen Itza

The Observatory in Chichen Itza, also known as El Caracol, is a round structure very similar to those that exist in other parts of Mesoamerica.

It has some windows on the top from which you can see the equinoxes, sunsets, solstices, the positions of Venus and other stars, and the observation guided many of the decisions and actions taken by the ruling class.

Venus and the Observatory in Chichen Itza

The main purpose of the Observatory in Chichen Itza was to watch and study the trajectory of Venus, and based only on visual observations the Mayans came to know that:

  • Venus appears in the west and disappears in the east at different times throughout the year.
  • Its synodic cycle was 584 days.
  • 5 cycles of Venus were equivalent to 8 solar years.
  • Venus appeared at the north and south extremes at 8-year intervals.

Astronomical observations

The principle of astronomical observations is based on two angles of walls in the interior of an opening, this method allows to make observations with great precision.

Studying the results provided by the upper chamber of the Observatory in Chichen Itza, we get the following results:

  • The first observation span gives us the exact direction of the south.
  • The second one is the setting of the moon on March 21.
  • The third one is the direction of the west, as well as the setting of the sun at the equinoxes of March 21 and September 21. And finally, a second observation through the same place corresponds to the sunset on the summer solstice, on June 21.

The Observatory in Chichen Itza to guide other activities

It was also used to define dates of sacred rituals and defining the cycles of cultivation and agricultural activities in general because the sunsets on the horizon marked to the ancients the stages of the cycle and hence the importance that the observatories had for the Mayans.

Physical description of The Observatory in Chichen Itza

This building is composed of a rectangular platform that measures 67 m from north to south and 52 from east to west; it has a single body slightly sloped with a cornice board, whose total height is 6 m. There is a set of 3 staircases on its front which points to the west decorated with interlaced serpents.

A circular building 16 m in diameter and 5m high was built on top of the main platform with a single body composed of sidewalks with a slight protruding molding and a vertical wall finished off with another molding. The Observatory in Chichen Itza is surrounded by a rectangular platform. On top of this, a construction 11 m in diameter and 3.70 m high was built, consisting of a single vertical body between two molded cornices.

The third and upper body is very destroyed, but it shows a series of small openings or windows used for observations.

The Observatory Annex

Observatory Annex in Chichen Itza
Observatory Annex in Chichen Itza

Towards the southwest corner of the great platform of The Observatory, a rectangular attached platform was built with a stairway limited by rafters decorated with feathered serpents.

A temple or residential building of 14 m long by 9 m wide was built on top of this platform, composed of two parallel bays, the first one has two rows of columns, and the second one narrower and with an entry door, in which there is a stool that occupies almost all the space. The facade of the building has a slope, a vertical wall, and a cornice with moldings, all free of decoration.

Location of the Observatory in Chichen Itza

The Observatory in Chichen Itza is on the Central Group between Chichanchob and the Nuns Building.


The Nunnery

The Nunnery in Chichen Itza
The Nunnery in Chichen Itza

The Nunnery in Chichen Itza has its front to the north and consists of three buildings: Las Monjas (The Nuns), the East, and Southeast wings, which correspond to several building periods overlapping.

It’s possible that its name is due to the fact that the buildings, with numerous rooms, reminded the Spaniards of their convents. The great set of the Nunnery in Chichen Itza has palace-type structures, a ball game, and a low wall. The main building has at least six construction stages, with modifications in the building, decoration, and style; indications of a long period of occupation.

It has three floors in which the Mayan-Toltec style and the Puuc are combined. On the second floor, there are long inscriptions on the lintels and it is richly decorated with mural paintings and stone mosaics of the late Puuc style. The constructions are known as the Annex and the Church is part of this complex.

The Original Temple of The Nunnery in Chichen Itza

This original temple was an independent construction; but later enlarged, reaching 50 m long by 23 wide, for which part of the eastern wing was covered, giving the impression that this building is placed inside the bigger one.

The Nunnery Chac masks in Chichen Itza
The Nunnery Chac masks in Chichen Itza

It consists of a single body with a molded base, vertical frieze, and a wide molding decorated with Chac masks and lattice panels, also with rounded corners.

The Eastern Chamber of The Nunnery in Chichen Itza

The Eastern Chamber is the most luxurious and elegant facade of the Nunnery Complex. It consists of a plinth formed by two projecting moldings and a central strip decorated with squat columns and frets. There’s also a central door framed by curved noses of the god Chac. On each side you can find four masks of the same god, two of them superimposed on the corners; and in the upper molding formed by zigzag bars that give the impression of a snake. This building possibly had a cresting at the front of the façade.

The Nunnery east chamber in Chichen Itza
The Nunnery east chamber in Chichen Itza

There is a hieroglyphic inscription on the lintel of the door that has been calculated around the year 880, according to the Katun count; and as already mentioned, part of its west wing was covered by the extension of the second basement of the Nunnery in Chichen Itza, shortening its rooms and giving the impression that the building penetrates the basement.

It is also very probable that this building was modified in part during the occupation of the Itzá when the cult of Kukulkán was introduced.


Southeast building of The Nunnery in Chichen Itza

The Southeast building corresponds to the times of the Itzaes, who brought the cult of Kukulkán and other architectural forms, such as the use of columns to support wooden lintels and jambs with bas-reliefs. You can actually see how both the Nunnery and the East buildings were attached in order to frame a small patio surrounded by other structures of that time.

The most recent building

The Nunnery is composed of a high body that reaches 10 m high, formed by a base between simple moldings, a vertical frieze, and another wide molding, all smooth and with rounded corners. On the north side, there was a central stairway that allowed access to the upper temple.

The temple consists of two long parallel bays, with six squares aligned and with doors that look north and south, as well as two independent rooms, one at each end and with east and west doors, all of them roofed with a Mayan vault.

The facade facing north is decorated with lattice panels and columns, while the south facade has frets, tied columns, and sculpted rosettes. The building has a Chenes style because the facade is completely decorated; the frieze between moldings is smooth and inclined, which gives it a Mayan hut appearance.

Location of the Nunnery in Chichen Itza

The Nunnery in Chichen Itza is the next major building on the left of the Observatory and almost the end of the road before you have to return.


The Church

The Church in Chichen Itza
The Church in Chichen Itza

When the Church in Chichen Itza was first discovered, this building was notable for the good state of preservation it was in, and for the richness and beauty of its ornaments. La Iglesia (the Church) is a small building next to Las Monjas (the Nuns) with a single chamber and one access door, similar to a rectangular chapel, hence its name.

This building has a rectangular floor plan and consists of a single vaulted room. The main facade faces the west, with an entrance made of stone lintel in the central part of the building.

Physical description of The Church in Chichen Itza

Decorated fringes

Two fringes decorated with frets run along with the whole building, the first one is a simple pattern above the door limited by two moldings. The second fringe comes above the decorated frieze, and it’s made of a band of serrated and zig-zag bars forming inverted triangles that give the impression of a serpent, all within two simple molds.

Decorated Frieze

In the decorated frieze you can see three masks made in the stone mosaic technique, one in the central part and one in each corner, with their noses hooked or rolled representing Chac, the god of rain.

Chac mask of the Church in Chichen Itza
Chac mask of the Church in Chichen Itza

On each side of the central mask, there is a kind of niche with two figures, sitting on a shelf or throne, which have been identified with the Four Bacabes* that held the sky in its four directions.

In the niche from the north, you can see a figure with wings and an oval pectoral hanging on a rope or string, as well as another figure with a snail on its back; while in the south niche one of the figures carries a kind of shell around the body, and the other has a turtle shell. Some consider the Bacabes disguised as crab, snail, armadillo, and tortoise.

The Church’s frontal cresting

The Church's crest in Chichen Itza
The Church’s crest in Chichen Itza

A cresting rises on the facade wall that gives more height to the Church in Chichen Itza, profusely decorated with stone mosaic, in the Puuc style. This is composed of a fringe decorated with frets, between two simple moldings, then the frieze decorated with masks of Chac. And finally comes the cornice that tops the building.

Location of the Church in Chichen Itza

The Church in Chichen Itza is a stand-alone building next to the Nuns building.


The Bacabes

*The Bacabes are gods that belong to Mayan mythology. There are four gods that each have a different color: red, white, black, and yellow; their destiny was to hold the four corners of the sky with their hands up.


Akab Dzib

Akab Dzib in Chichen Itza
Akab Dzib in Chichen Itza

The name of Akab Dzib in Chichen Itza comes from non-deciphered hieroglyphs that mean “dark writing”, not because of “dark spell-like enchantments”, but because they haven’t been deciphered, yet…
The hieroglyphs were found on the lintel of one of the inner doors of the south section of the building, the undeciphered hieroglyphs are found in front of a sculpted priest sitting on a throne.

There’s a lintel with the date 10.2.1.0.0. from the Mayan Calendar that has been calculated in the year 869.

Physical description of Akab Dzib in Chichen Itza

Akab Dzib is composed of a central building 54 m long, 16 m wide, and 6m tall with two rooms joined at the north and south ends. The two other identical buildings were built centuries after the main one, and each of them has eight chambers or rooms, roofed with a Mayan vault or false arch. The entire construction consists of three sections with 18 chambers or rooms; and well-cut ashlars in their facades that look to the east.

It also has 7 doorways on its western-facing facade and 4 on the eastern side with a staircase that leads to the roof. Inside there are hands painted in red on the vaults of some rooms, perhaps related to Kabul, god of the “celestial hand”.

Location of Akab Dzib in Chichen Itza

Akab Dzib in Chichen Itza is near the Nunnery, and almost behind the Observatory. It’s also the last building at the end of the road.


Balamku Cave in Chichen Itza

Balamku cave in Chichen Itza
Balamku cave in Chichen Itza

The Balamkú Cave in Chichén Itzá, which was discovered 50 years ago but remained unexplored until now, is a labyrinthine path with a depth of 24 meters below the surface.

This is a discovery of at least 200 ceramic pieces that remained intact for more than a thousand years in an underground ritual cave in the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, in the current state of Yucatán.

Balamkú means “jaguar god”, in allusion to the divine quality that the ancient Mayans attributed to this animal, which they believed had the ability to enter and leave the underworld.

Balamkú Cave ceramics
Balamkú Cave ceramics

Location of the Balakmú Cave

The Balamkú Cave is located 2.7 kilometers east of the pyramid of El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulkan, one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The Findings in the Balakmú Cave

The project’s head researcher pointed out that the most important part of this finding is that it’s not altered, it’s not looted, and that all the information was still found in the Balamku Cave.

Balamkú Cave findings
Balamkú Cave findings

The vast majority of objects found are censers dedicated to Tlaloc, the Mesoamerican god of water, used for rituals and offerings in the Late Classic Maya period (600-900 AD).

The archaeologist explained that several investigations like this one have discarded the initial hypothesis of a Toltec invasion of the Maya and reaffirmed that there must be an influence from the center of Mexico towards Chichen Itza.

The archaeological artifacts belong to seven offerings documented so far and are in good condition since the cave remained sealed for centuries.

The incense burners and vessels discovered in the Balamku Cave still preserve charred remains, food, seeds, jade, shell, and bones, among other elements that the Maya offered during that time to their deities.

The importance of the Cave

Balamkú Cave pieces
Balamkú Cave pieces

The difficult access and morphology of the cave hindered the deposition of these pieces and the celebration of rituals, the reason why the researchers consider that it was a space of great relevance for the Mayans of Chichen Itza.

The archaeologist even thinks that this cave is probably more sacred than the Sacred Cenote itself. He considered it was more important because the effort that represents entering is greater than in the Sacred Cenote, which received offerings from all of Mesoamerica and there were pilgrimages.

The size of the Balamkú Cave

Balamkú Cave size

So far, there has been a preliminary exploration of the first 450 meters of the cave, although it’s estimated that this route would be equivalent to one-third of the actual length.

The researchers are working on the development of a three-dimensional model of the cave under the premise of avoiding any modification.


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