Explore Chichen Itza

Cultural insight into Mayan History

Chichen Itza (chee-chehn eet-sah) is the most visited Mayan ruin site in the Yucatan. It was the sacred city of the Itza, which when translated from Mayan means “Mouth of the well of the Itza.” Located 75 miles east of Merida, the capital of the State of Yucatan, Mexico; (1.5 hours) and 122 miles from Playa del Carmen (3 hours), this archaeological site was declared one of the new 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.

Chichen Itza was an urban trade center, the religious and spiritual heart of the Maya community as well as hub for astronomical developments. Highlights at the ruins include the Temple of Kukulcan, the Sacred Cenote, the Ball Court and the Group of the 1000 Columns. Note that the Toltecs invaded Chichen Itza in 1000 AD and forced a merge of the two cultures. With close observation or the help of a local guide, the shift in architectural features is easily identified making the mystery of Chichen Itza even more intriguing.

Interesting facts about Chichen Itza

  • Arts and sciences flourished at Chichen Itza from 625 AD to 800 AD the Classic Period, also referred to as Florescence Period.
  • The most ornate buildings were built during the Toltec-Itza alliance formed around 1000 AD. The Observatory, Kukulkan’s Pyramid, the Temple of the Warriors, The Ball Court, and The Group of the Thousand Columns were all built after the Toltec influence.
  • From 1100 AD to the time of residential abandonment in 1200 AD, Chichen Itza became more of a religious and spiritual center.
  • The Spring and Fall equinox is a popular date for visiting Chichen Itza as the shadow of the serpent is shown on the Temple of Kukulkan. This incredible site shows the precision and union of Mayan building techniques with their astrological understandings.
  • The Ball Court is the largest of any Mayan ruin site measuring 554 feet (168 meters) long and 231 feet (70 meters) wide.
  • The Temple of Kukulkan has 365 steps representing the 365 days of the year. Each side of the temple has 91 steps with the final 365th step on the top of the temple.
  • Chichen Itza has a 45 minute night show that is open to the public.
  • The history of Chichen Itza continues even after the city was abandoned by native dwellers in the 1200′s. American, Mexican and international archeologists have added to the colorful history of this famous Mayan city during the excavation, documentation and ongoing discoveries of this cultural masterpiece.
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