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.

El Castillo showing one restored and one unrestored side
2:23am 19th March 2012
1200x803 391kb

The classic shot of Chichen Itza - Kukulcan Pyramid or El Castillo
2:48am 19th March 2012
1200x803 333kb

Closeup of El Castillo
2:49am 19th March 2012
1200x803 376kb

Platform of the Jaguars
2:57am 19th March 2012
1200x803 466kb

Tzompantli (Yes, they are skulls) They would display the heads of their enemies here
2:59am 19th March 2012
1200x803 546kb

Outside the ball court
3:00am 19th March 2012
1200x803 438kb

Quite worn detail on top of the ball court
3:01am 19th March 2012
1200x803 337kb

This is here to show the colours which have faded everywhere else with time
3:03am 19th March 2012
1200x803 292kb

Head of one of the serpents
3:04am 19th March 2012
1200x803 518kb

The great ball court, aka Juego de Pelota
3:08am 19th March 2012
1200x803 309kb

These were the rings which you had to knock the ball through
3:22am 19th March 2012
1200x803 339kb

Motif showing the ball teams (7 a side)
3:23am 19th March 2012
1200x803 569kb

With detail of one of the captains having his head cut off
3:26am 19th March 2012
1200x803 554kb

Side wall of the ball court
3:28am 19th March 2012
1200x803 393kb

Detail on one of the platforms (back of the jaguar platform I think)
3:32am 19th March 2012
1200x803 366kb

The Sacred Well (Cenote Sagrado), compared to other cenotes, it does not look inviting
3:39am 19th March 2012
1200x803 590kb

The people on the causeway between the main site and the well
4:20am 19th March 2012
1200x803 383kb

I did like the way some things still just ran into the vegetation
4:21am 19th March 2012
1200x803 604kb

Glimpse of El Castillo from behind the Venus platform
4:24am 19th March 2012
1200x803 381kb

Another view of El Castillo
4:25am 19th March 2012
1200x803 332kb

Dig almost anywhere and you'll find ruins
4:33am 19th March 2012
1200x803 529kb

Same way that look closely and you'll see iguanas
4:37am 19th March 2012
1200x783 539kb

The Ossuary pyramid
4:40am 19th March 2012
1200x803 654kb

A Chac Mool, it was never made clear what their purpose was
4:43am 19th March 2012
1200x803 476kb

Another side of the Ossuary pyramid
4:44am 19th March 2012
1200x782 392kb

Caracol (which means snail) aka the Observatory
4:51am 19th March 2012
1200x803 606kb

La Iglesia (which means the Church, next to the Nunnery)
5:00am 19th March 2012
1200x803 417kb

The main Nunnery building, named because the stonework reminded the finders of a convent
5:03am 19th March 2012
1200x803 440kb

Faces of Chaac, on the La Iglesia
5:04am 19th March 2012
1200x803 705kb

Back of La Iglesia
5:06am 19th March 2012
1200x803 689kb

Profile pic of La Iglesia, those hooks on the corners are noses on the face of Chaac, the god of rain and lightning
5:06am 19th March 2012
1200x803 395kb

A classic Mayan style arch with the Observatory in the background
5:09am 19th March 2012
1200x803 427kb

Another shot of the Observatory
5:12am 19th March 2012
1200x803 342kb

And another iguana
5:23am 19th March 2012
1200x803 564kb

One of the platforms near the Ossuary
5:24am 19th March 2012
1200x803 556kb

Me looking casual at Chicken Itza
5:31am 19th March 2012
675x900 224kb

Yeap, still looking casual
5:31am 19th March 2012
675x900 210kb

Back at El Castillo
5:32am 19th March 2012
1200x803 418kb

Another of El Castillo showing the excvated door which leads to the inner pyramids
5:34am 19th March 2012
1200x803 405kb

One of the serpents on El Castillo
5:36am 19th March 2012
1200x803 504kb

Temple of the Warriors and the Group of a Thousand Columns
5:39am 19th March 2012
1200x803 428kb

Detail on the columns, each is carved with a warrior on each side
5:40am 19th March 2012
602x900 304kb

Temple of the Big Tables, the small pyramid beside Temple of the Warriors
5:40am 19th March 2012
1200x803 485kb

Some more of the columns which form part of the Group of a Thousand Columns
5:41am 19th March 2012
1200x803 703kb

5:41am 19th March 2012
1200x803 703kb

Another jaguar
5:41am 19th March 2012
1200x803 711kb

A Chac Mool
5:44am 19th March 2012
1200x803 749kb

El Castillo again
5:45am 19th March 2012
1200x803 329kb

Decorations on the Venus platform I think
5:47am 19th March 2012
1200x803 501kb

More detail of the decorations
5:47am 19th March 2012
1200x803 714kb

And again
5:48am 19th March 2012
1200x803 569kb

Detail on the jaguar platform
5:49am 19th March 2012
1200x803 369kb

El Castillo and everyone getting ready to watch the snake shadow (Just starting to appear on the left staircase)
5:49am 19th March 2012
1200x803 354kb

The Great Ball Court. It is big
5:53am 19th March 2012
1200x803 296kb

<-- Go back Images and content © Ryan McConigley, 2012
Not to be used without permission, for profit, etc.
Last modified: July 02 2023 04:35:22.
Contact: web *at*