Chichén Itzá is the Yucatán’s, and thus Mexico’s biggest Mayan draw & was voted in 2007 as one of the New7Wonders of the World.

El Castillo/Pyramid of Kukulcan, Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. May 3rd 2013.

El Castillo/Pyramid of Kukulcan, Chichén Itzá (map-pointer-icon), Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. May 3rd 2013.

Like most Mayan ruins, Chichén Itzá was settled in about 600 AD & abandoned mysteriously in about 900 AD – although it was resettled sometime later & remained a place of pilgrimage for the Maya until it was conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. It’s the largest of the archaeological cities of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization & one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. The 25-metre high Pyramid of Kukulcn is Chichén Itzá’s major construction constituting its political & religious centre. A temple-pyramid dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, it’s actually a massive Maya calendar formed in stone. Its 9 levels are divided in two by a staircase, making 18 separate terraces to commemorate the 18 20-day months of the Mayan Vague Year. The 4 stairways, one on each face, have 91 steps each; add the top platform and the total is 365, the number of days in the year. Clever those Myans.

Video || Chichén Itzá

The New7Wonder Blunder
According to Lonely Planet, Chichén Itzá will

Impress even the most jaded visitor.

Well, & aside from the the Pyramid of Kukulcan, Chichén Itzá didn’t impress me all that much. Truth be told the only positive I took away from the site today was the above picture. If not for that the visit would have been a total bust. Having been to Uxmal yesterday I can say that it – Uxmal – is a Mayan site much more deserving of ones time. Chichén Itzá just doesn’t offer a lot – none of its major constructions are accessible, all roped off, as are large portions of the complex itself, & it’s overly touristy with hawkers seemingly outnumbering tourists (and there are LOTS of tourists, mostly bused in on a day trips from the beaches of Cancun). Oh, and the nightly Light & Sound show has been cancelled until further notice (no reason given).

I can only compare Chichén Itzá to Uxmal, but visiting the former is a flat experience when compared to the more intimate, less crowded, more accessible setting of the latter. A victim of it’s own fame maybe, but – & I hate to say it – still one of those must-see, box-ticking locations.

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