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Chichén Itzá
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-03-05 17:43:07 | Chichen-Itza, Yucatan, Mexico
Keywords: Mayas, pre-hispanic, UNESCO
I was looking forward with great anticipation my visit to Chichén Itzá. It's probably the most famous Mexican site outside the country (almost everyone has heard about it) and it's a major site in the history of the Mayas. It's in close distance from the Riviera Maya, so it's constantly flooded with tourists. I arranged myself to be there early in the morning, before the arrival of the bus tours. It was a nice visit, the weather was incredible and I really enjoyed my visit into this famous city.

There are tours departing from any major city in the Yucatán peninsula to go to Chichén Itzá. I chose to go stay a few days to a city very close to it. There are two choices: the small town of Piste right next to the site or Valladolid a bit further but bigger city. In between, there are a few villages, but no lodging possibility there. In the morning, I took a colectivo to reach the site and I was there for the opening at 8 AM, so I had the opportunity to take some nice pictures before the site was flooded by some of the 1.2 millions who visit it annually.

The city was founded around year 350 but was at its summit between the years 700 and 950... where it was one of the most important cities of the Mayan empire, and certainly the biggest in the current Mexican territory. Chichén Itzá was considered by the Mayas not only as a major trading post where they could exchange goods with the people from the current Central Mexico, but was also considered a sacred city.

The city was conquered by the Toltecs around year 950 and they added their own set of buildings and ornaments, creating the most exhaustive city featuring the two groups. Around year 1200, the city was almost abandoned but a small population remained there for many centuries because there were some Mayas on the location when it was visited by the Spaniards in mid 16th century.

The main ball court, the largest in Mesoamerica.

Of course, the most impressive monument on the site is the giant central pyramid, called El Castillo (The Castle). It's about 30 m high pedestal for the temple located on top. Inside the structure, they found another and older temple upon which this one was built. It's a very stunning structure to witness. Each year for both equinoxes (when day time = night time, around March 21st and September 21st), the site is flooded with tourists coming to see the shadow of one side of the pyramid to another creating the 'body' of the serpent going down the stairs.

The site is pretty huge, but it's hard to realize because outside the main plaza, the rest of the monuments are all hidden in the forest. You can follow the path to tour the whole site, or just follow the trail made by the dozens and dozens of souvenirs vendors along the path.

On the not so good side of the visit: the price. Normally, to access an archaeological site like this all over Mexico, you pay between 45 and 60 pesos, depending of the site. That fee is collected by the organization in charge of the site (the INAH – Institute National of Anthropology and History). But in Yucatán, on top of the 59 pesos for the INAH to enter the site, you have a state fee of 129 pesos. From what I understand it's related to the property of the land where the site is. In Uxmal, we had to pay the total fee at one window, in a single transaction. In Chichén Itzá, we needed to pay at two windows (first the INAH, then the state)... and the two coupons were processed by two different people at the gate.

The Coracol, the observatory

Related posts:
What I've seen in Mexico
San Agustin site
Stone spheres of the Diquís valley


left this comment on 2014-03-06 11:26:34


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