Saturday, April 07, 2007



After Uxmal, we returned to Mérida, just to make a tour to Chichén Itzá, «the city at the mouth of the well of the Itza tribe», one of the most impressive, and the best preserved, of the Mayan sites. Actually, while Europe was still in the Middle Age, the Maya mapped the heavens, created the only writing system native to the American continent, were masters of mathematics and invented the calendar. The Maya also cleared routes through jungles and swamps to foster trade with other peoples. Around 300 B.C., they adopted a system of government ruled by nobles and kings, which started to decline around 900 A.D. when the southern Maya abandoned their cities.

"ON THE WAY from Mérida to Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá was included in the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1988"

"CENOTE is a thirty meter deep and sixty five meter diameter sinkhole formed by water percolating through the soft limestone above. Since the porous soil held little water, these underground bodies were extremely important to the city. It's a bizarre world with red limestone stalactites, a green water pool, and roots of trees hanging around. Once a year, in April, the beam of light touches the tip of the stalactite. The Cenote, however, seems to have been also used for the sacrifice of some young girls, full of jewels and offers, to Tlaloc, the God of Rain"

"BALL COURT - The Mayans were great sportsmen and build huge ball courts to play their games. The Great Ball Court of Chichén Itzá is 166 meter long and 69 meter wide. However, a whisper from one top can be heard clearly at the other and throughout the whole court. This stunning acoustics is a secret still to be explained. The ball game of the Maya was named Pokta-Pok, the name of a famous golf course nowadays in Cancun"


"TOURIST CROWD - It's true that the magic of the place is better enjoyed with a few people, but if you're on your own and lucky enough, you'll be able to avoid the crowds"

"EL CASTILLO - The Kukulcán pyramid called «the castle» is at the centre of the huge (300 hectares) site. Its construction was planned in such a way that each March and September Equinox the rising and setting sun would cast a shadow of a serpent - Kukulcán or Quetzalcoatl - twisting the side steps of the pyramid. The four stairs of the pyramid have ninety-one steps each, which, together with the top platform, make a total of 365, the same figure as the days of the Gregorian calendar... The acoustics is also amazing: a person standing on the top step can speak normally and be heard by those at ground level"

"WALL - Climbing the pyramid (it seems it's no longer allowed) was quite a challenge but the spectacular view of the city and the surrounding jungle was fabulous"


"THE TEMPLE OF THE WARRIORS as seen from the top of the Kukulcán. This Temple - forty meters wide and twelve meters high - is one of the most terror instigating ruins on the site: a huge temple, hundreds of columns that continue on into the jungle and lots of carvings depicting warriors..."

"CHAC MOOL - The Chac Mool depicts a human figure in an awkward position: seated on the ground with its upper back raised, the head turned to a right angle, the legs drawn up to the buttocks, elbows rest on the ground, and its hands holding a tray over the stomach, used for offerings or human sacrifices. The current name derives from the name «Chaacmol» which Augustus Le Plongeon gave to a sculpture he and his wife excavated from the Temple of the Eagles and Jaguars in 1875"

"COLUMNS - At the temple of Warriors"


"EL CARACOL/THE OBSERVATORY is a round building on a large square platform, nicknamed «the snail» for the stone spiral staircase inside. Several of its windows point towards the equinox sunset and the southernmost and northernmost points on the horizon where Venus rises"

"LAS MONJAS/NUNNERY - The Spanish nicknamed this complex Las Monjas, but it seems to have been actually a governmental palace. It contains some of the best preserved structures at Chichén Itzá, as every square meter of wall has carvings and paintings decorating it"


Poly said...

Estimado GMG:

Bellos recuerdos y clasicas tomas familiares, hoy Chichen esta mejor conservado, controlan el acceso a los turistas nacionales y foraneos a las piramides.

No tarda el dia en que ya no nos dejen subir sus peldaños.


GMG said...

Gracias, Poly.
Yo creo que ya no dejan subir. Una amiga estuvo en Chichen el verano pasado y ya no autorizaban la subida de los peldaños...