The Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza

Sacred Cenote in Chichén Itzá

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 Kukulkán Pyramid on opposite side of the platform.

Share with your friends

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Leave a comment



Hi, I'm Sergio, the creator of Mayan Peninsula where I specialize in publishing everything related to Mayan Archaeological Sites in the form of eBooks, audio, 360º photos, videos, and more.
I really hope you like everything that evolves from this project, if you have any questions or suggestions, you can always contact me through my email:

Looking for a Hotel in Mérida?

Follow Mayan Peninsula in all of these social networks

Mayan Peninsula
Travel Guides & eBooks

Chichen Itza interactive guide for iOS

Available for Kindle & Apple Books