Chichen Itza: The Mystery of the Serpent
Upon entering the city, the Gran Explanada greets us, setting to some of the most emblematic constructions including the Pirámide de Kukulcán, a colossal monument–selected as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007–with a quadrangular base, stairways on all sides and a rectangular temple at the summit. The city makes an impression, proven by its assignation as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
This archeological zone attracts many visitors to watch the incredible ‘descenso de Kukulcán’ (‘descent of Kukulcán’), an awesome spectacle of light and shadow projected on the northern stairway of the complex just after midday on the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, giving the impression that the Feathered Serpent God is really descending from the heights of the pyramid.
The city, influenced by other Mayan and Toltec groups, possesses constructions such as the Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors), a steep pyramid made up of four bodies, providing 131 feet of height; Templo de las Mil Columnas (Temple of 1,000 Columns), which, although only really made up of 200 squared pilasters and rounded columns, is known to have supported arches on wooden lintels that formed an irregular quadrilateral of 490 feet; Plataforma de Venus (The Platform of Venus), a square structure 82 feet wide, its name deriving from the stars carved into its corners–it also has bas-reliefs dedicated to Kukulcán and the remains of red, blue, and yellow painted murals.
The building that most stands out is La Iglesia (the Church), in Puuc style, given its name because it brings to mind Christian temples. The exterior is adorned with a belt of ample-nosed mascarons interspersed in the niches with figures of armadillos, shells, turtles, and crabs. Don’t forget to visit the Cenote Sagrado (the Sacred Cenote), where sacrifices were held in honor of Chaac, the god of water, and where objects made of ceramics, jade, and gold have been found.
How to Get There
It is 78 miles from Mérida and 120 from Cancún.
More info on Mexico: here.