Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is probably the best known Mayan site. It's not far out of Cancun, so it's almost a mandatory stop for all the tourists. It is dominated by El Castillo, a huge pyramid dedicated to Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent. Two sides of the pyramid have been restored and two are stablised, but not restored. Each side has a large stone staircase with the northern side staircase flanked by feathered serpents.

El Castillo is the first thing you see when you walk in, so everyone stops and gawks and takes photos. At the right time of the year, the sun casts a shadow down one of the serpents which makes it look as if the serpent is moving, unfortunately we were there two days too early. Which might have been a blessing, since they had thousands of people queue up to see it.

One of the other things Chichen Itza is known for is the ball court, this one is huge, its like a soccer pitch. Other ball courts are a fraction of the size. This one also has six identical carvings on the side showing the two teams of seven, the ball and the captain of one team cutting off the head of the other.

As an intersting aside, the natural assumption is the captain of the loosing team is the one that gets their head cut off, but our guide was telling us it was a seen as a privlege to be sacrified, so there is the possibility it was the winner. Were they fighting for life or fighting to be the god's chosen? Something to think about.

Chichen Itza also has the sacred cenote which they use to throw offerings into. Pottery, jewelry, people. Anything you wanted to send to the gods. Almost ironically it was the worse looking cenote I saw on the trip. A rather revolting fetid green colour.

The site itself is nice and spread out, but there are people selling stuff everywhere. It is like walking around a giant market, everywhere you look someone will be offering you a mask, tea towel, calendar, statue or t-shirt. For me, that really detracted from the experience. I also wasn't keen on the setting, it's a very dry, almost desert environment, it wasn't somewhere I could get enthusiastic about.

A great place to stop on the way to somewhere, or if you have some time in Cancun, worth dropping by. The shop by the main entrance does do an amazing slushie though. A wonderful thing.


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El Castillo showing one restored and one unrestored side
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The classic shot of Chichen Itza - Kukulcan Pyramid or El Castillo
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Closeup of El Castillo
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Platform of the Jaguars
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Tzompantli (Yes, they are skulls) They would display the heads of their enemies here
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Outside the ball court
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Quite worn detail on top of the ball court
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This is here to show the colours which have faded everywhere else with time
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Head of one of the serpents
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The great ball court, aka Juego de Pelota
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These were the rings which you had to knock the ball through
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Motif showing the ball teams (7 a side)
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With detail of one of the captains having his head cut off
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Side wall of the ball court
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Detail on one of the platforms (back of the jaguar platform I think)
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The Sacred Well (Cenote Sagrado), compared to other cenotes, it does not look inviting
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The people on the causeway between the main site and the well
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I did like the way some things still just ran into the vegetation
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Glimpse of El Castillo from behind the Venus platform
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Another view of El Castillo
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Dig almost anywhere and you'll find ruins
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Same way that look closely and you'll see iguanas
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The Ossuary pyramid
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A Chac Mool, it was never made clear what their purpose was
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Another side of the Ossuary pyramid
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Caracol (which means snail) aka the Observatory
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La Iglesia (which means the Church, next to the Nunnery)
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The main Nunnery building, named because the stonework reminded the finders of a convent
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Faces of Chaac, on the La Iglesia
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Back of La Iglesia
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Profile pic of La Iglesia, those hooks on the corners are noses on the face of Chaac, the god of rain and lightning
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A classic Mayan style arch with the Observatory in the background
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Another shot of the Observatory
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And another iguana
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One of the platforms near the Ossuary
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Me looking casual at Chicken Itza
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Yeap, still looking casual
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Back at El Castillo
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Another of El Castillo showing the excvated door which leads to the inner pyramids
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One of the serpents on El Castillo
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Temple of the Warriors and the Group of a Thousand Columns
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Detail on the columns, each is carved with a warrior on each side
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Temple of the Big Tables, the small pyramid beside Temple of the Warriors
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Some more of the columns which form part of the Group of a Thousand Columns
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Jaguar
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Another jaguar
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A Chac Mool
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El Castillo again
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Decorations on the Venus platform I think
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More detail of the decorations
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And again
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Detail on the jaguar platform
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El Castillo and everyone getting ready to watch the snake shadow (Just starting to appear on the left staircase)
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The Great Ball Court. It is big
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Last modified: May 27 2012 04:08:34.
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