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Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was one of the most important cities in the Mayan world. Located in the jungles of the Yucatan, it’s close proximity to Cancun makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Mexico (drawing over 2 million people annually). It was recently named one of the 7 wonders of the modern world – with the likes of Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China and the Colosseum of Rome – and is a can’t miss destination for anyone who visits the region.

It is best known for the Temple of Kukulkan – or El Castillo – a 30-meter tall step pyramid with 7 platforms that rise above all the other temples and structures in the complex. The symmetry of this step pyramid is amazing, casting perfect shadows onto itself when the sun is just right. It is one of the most recognizable archeological landmarks in the world.

There are many Mayan Temples scattered across the region, and this was one of the largest and most important of its time. Even during the Mayan period, this was known as one of their greatest cities. During its peak – sometime between 600-1200 AD – the city would have been one of the most important in the region, a central hub of culture that influenced others around it.

While everyone comes to see the main temple, there is much more to Chichen Itza than a single pyramid. This complex is home to many other really well-preserved temples and buildings, including the observatory, the great ball court and the temple of the warriors.

The Yucatan has no above ground rivers, and instead, fresh water is found in open air sinkholes (also known as Cenotes) and the Sacred Cenote here would have provided fresh water for the inhabitants of Chichen Itza. While it is not possible to swim in them today, there are many nearby cenotes if you want to take a dip in the fresh water.

While we have lived on the Riviera Maya for the last few years, we haven’t had time to go back and explore this impressive site –  but it is definitely high up on our list of things to do. One thing we are looking forward to doing is visiting the ruins at night because they do a projected light show on the side of the Kukuklan Temple which we have heard is a really cool experience. We promise to go back soon and explore but until then these photos from 2012 (taken during Rob’s first trip to the region) will have to do for now.

If you’re visiting Cancun (or anywhere in the region) and don’t take the time to visit the ruins, it might be the biggest mistake you make on your trip! Get out there and explore!

Chichen Itza:


Chichen Itza Bricks. 2012.


Temple of Jaguars. 2012.


Sitting at the top of the temple. 2012.


El Caracol – the observatory of Chichen Itza. 2012.


The Temple of Kukulkan. 2012.


Carvings. 2012.


Ruins. 2012.


Pillars and Stairs. 2012.


The Temple of Kukulkan. 2012.


High Priests temple. 2012.


Stairway to the Heavens. 2012.


Shadows on the Steps. 2012.


Face. 2012.


Crumbling staircase. 2012.


Tourists. 2012.


Carvings. 2012.


Chichen Itza Ruins. 2012.

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