Posts Tagged ‘mayan ruins’
The Chichen Itza Mayan ruins are a huge visitor attraction. Chichen Itza may be a major archaeological site. This place was originally built by the Mayans, and it is positioned just about 70 miles away from the capital of Yucatan, Mexico. The Chichen Itza Mayan ruins are a compelling site, which draws in a large number of visitors annually but there’s an awful lot that most people don’t realize about the place.
The actual name “Chichen Itza” is actually a Mayan name that means, “on the mouth of the well of Itza.” The word Chichen comes from the words “Chi” which closely translates as mouth or edge plus “ch’e'en” which means “well.” Itza possibly generally translates as wizards or enchantment or magician of the water.
Origins of this Site
This archaelogical site is split up into two major parts. One part comes from the older classic Mayan era and this was created through the 7th to 10th centuries. The other area contains characteristics from the Mayan-Toltec era, built around the 11-13th centuries. The site is currently the largest of all the Mayan ruins found in Yucatan.
What You can See
The site was just recently named one of the Seven Wonders of the World so there’s lots to discover there. El Castillo or the Temple of Kukulkan is among the significant attractions of Chichen Itza. Located on the main platform, the El Castillo is actually a spectacular step pyramid that is almost 30 meters tall! During the afternoon in the spring and autumn equinox, the direct sunlight cast on the corner of the pyramid causes a series of triangle-shaped shadows, that all combine to create the shape of a serpent going down the pyramid. This was an intentional design produced by the Mayans to depict the serpent god Kukulkan.
Yet another well known point of interest is the Great Ball Court. Measuring about 545 feet by 223 feet, the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza is the largest sized ball court coming from the Mesoamerica era. The court was employed during its time to play Mesoamerican games. There’s a temple area situated at either end of the ball court. One of the temples is known as the Temple of the Bearded Man and the other is referred to as the Temple of the Jaguar.
The cenote sagrado or “sacred well” is an interesting feature of Chichen Itza. The Mayans utilized the cenote in order to make both human and object sacrifices for the Mayan rain god Chaac.
Some other must see features are the El Mercado, or the market, Temple of the Warriors, El Caracol, which is the observatory, Tzompantli or Wall of Skulls and the La Iglesia or The Church.
There’s so much to discover and do at the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins you need to make sure you already know what you want to see before you go to make sure that you are able to make the most of your day.
Cancun is located on the Yukatan Peninsula of Mexico that juts out into the Caribbean Sea. It is an area known to have remnants of a rich Mayan culture that once ruled this part of the world. Throughout the area, there are ancient temple ruins. Some have been cleared of vegetation and incorporated into giant theme parks. Others retain some of their nostalgia as they remain hidden in overgrown jungle areas. Many of the ruins are within easy driving distance of Cancun. You can arrange for a day excursion from the local tourist office near your Cancun hotels to visit one or several of the sites. To help you decide on which of the ruins to visit, here’s a brief description of some of the top sites and why they are worth visiting.
Fun-Filled Xcaret Park
Xcaret is a giant ecological theme park that has been built around the site of the Xcaret ruins. The park seeks to give visitors some valuable insight into the ancient Mayan culture and way of life. A guided tour includes visiting the temple ruins and ancient mine. Special archeological or ecological tours can be arranged. The culture is brought to life in the Mayan Village where people dressed in period costumes go about their daily village tasks. A highlight of the tour to Xcaret is the cultural show that takes place at night. You can watch as actors play out the Most Ancestral Mayan Ball Game. In addition to the cultural sites, there are also incredible natural wonders to explore at Xcaret. Visit the butterfly pavilion on Deer Island. See colorful birds and parrots in the trees as you walk the ancient jungle paths. You can also visit Puma and Jaguar Islands. There is an impressive orchid garden and mushroom farm with many different kinds of mushrooms. To get a good overview of the area, you can go up the rotational scenic tower and enjoy the view.
Wonders of Chichen Itza
The Chichen Itza is probably one of the best preserved and most impressive of the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is located in the interior just to the southeast of Merida and requires a few hours to transfer there and back. If visiting the site from Cancun, it is likely to be a full-day excursion. The biggest draw to Chichen Itza is the Kukulkan Pyramid which is known as Il Castillo. In 2007, this impressive and largely intact pyramid was voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramid is not Chichen Itza’s only attraction. The Great Ball Court is 545 feet long and 255 feet wide with incredible acoustics. The secret of the design has never quite been fathomed.
The Tzompantli is an ancient Aztec wall of skulls. These are found throughout ancient Mayan sites. The structure at Chichen Itza is believed to house the skulls of sacrificial victims and one of three walls of its kind in the complex. The Platform of the Jaguars and Eagles is a structure depicting the legendary Mayan warriors. The Eagle Knights were the archers that attacked first, shooting their arrows far ahead into the enemy ranks. The Jaguar Knights were the soldiers that fought in hand-to-hand combat using clubs and knives. There are two Venus platforms at Chichen Itza and both are presumed to have been used for sacrificial ceremonies and rituals. There are several smaller temple buildings located within the complex which had their own unique functions.
Coastal Ruins at Tulum
Located south of Cancun is the bustling town of Tulum. It is also home to one of the few coastal Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum was once a walled Mayan city which served as a major port for Coba. Today, the ancient temple ruins remain on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Like many other Mayan ruins, the temple has elaborate carvings and reliefs that led to the belief that Tulum was an important place of worship for the diving or descending god. Because of its location, it is presumed that Tulum was an important trading port and defensive city. It was protected on the seaward side by steep cliffs and on the landward side by a massive wall stretching almost 400 meters. In places, it was eight meters thick and averaged between three and five meters tall. Due to its unique wall structure and the fact that many of the relics are well preserved, Tulum is one of the most popular Mayan sites to visit.
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