Chichen Itza - Mayan Ruins

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September 8th 2005
Published: September 8th 2005EDIT THIS ENTRY

El Castillo PyramidEl Castillo PyramidEl Castillo Pyramid

El Castillo Pyramid, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico - © Copyright 1998 Static Brain
The Maya civilization is split up into into three time periods which spanned approximately 3,000 years. The first is the Pre-Classic period which spanned from 2000 B.C.-250 A.D. The second is the Classic period which spanned from 250 A.D.-900 A.D. The third is the Post-Classic period which spanned from 900 A.D.-1500 A.D. The Maya lived in the eastern one third of Mesoamerica, mainly in the Yucatan Peninsula. Many modern day Maya still inhabit the area today. They are a group of related Native American tribes who have the same linguistic organization. The best known group of Maya are the Maya Proper. The Maya Proper generally occupied the Yucatan peninsula. Chichén Itzá was first settled by the Maya who built up the original sections of the city. Chichen Itza was then conquered by a displaced segment of the Toltec population, who settled in the city, and remained for 200 years, until the fall of their empire. Some scholars hypothesize that the attacks of the Toltecs may have been one of the possible factors that lead to the ultimate demise of the Maya. Sculptures, murals and ceramic vessles in the Mayan and Toltec art styles have been uncovered from the site at Chichen Itza by archaeologists.

The name Chichen Itza (chee-chehn eet-sah) means "mouth of the well of the itzas" and some writers have referred to it as the "city of the water sorcerers", according to the guide at the site. Chichen Itza is an ageless and time worn Mesoamerican city, and an archaeological treasure trove. Chichen Itza is very popular for it's ancient archaeological ruins and is the most visited Mayan ruin site in Mexico. It is cherished because of it's vast amount of Mayan ruins still standing on the site today. It is, unequivocally and without a doubt, a "must see" for the serious ruin buff. Some of Chichen Itza is still partially buried deep in the tropical rainforests, in the central part of theYucatan peninsula, just southwest of Cancun, Mexico near the Caribbean sea, in the state of Yucatan, Mexico.

The Maya were highly skilled in architecture, math and astronomy. The pyramid has a square-base and steps on all four sides and is around 75 feet tall. The pyramid has 91 steps each in 4 faces. The top of the pyramid has 1 step so that the total of the steps are 91x4+1=365 which are equal to the days in a year. The pyramid was designed to be (among other things) a calendar to mark the passing of time. On the north side of the pyramid the ramps of the staircase are finished at the bottom with two serpent heads. At each vernal equinox there is a play of light and shadow on the staircase that looks like a serpent descending from the top and wriggling downwards, that symbolizes the return and descent of the god Kukulcan.

Mesoamerican pyramids were customarily built over the tops of older pyramids. El Castillo is no exception. It too was built over an existing structure. This made the new temple much more astounding and beautiful. It also made the new temple more supernaturnal and spiritual in that: the Maya believed that if they repeated the same rituals over and over in their religious ceremonies (ritual bloodletting, sacrifice, etc.) in the same spot that this would consolidate and focus all the religious and magical power in one spot and cause it to grow in that spot over time. Inside El Castillo archeaologists have found well preserved art and architecture in the older more sacred temple buried beneath the newer temple. It is a major archaeological find.

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23rd February 2006

Closed March 2006
I heard an elderly woman fell to her death on the steps of Chichen Itza. Is that particular temple closed now( February 2006) - How do I find out if it is open to climb?
13th January 2007

Climbing the Pyramid Stairs
Our family just came back from Mexico (Jan. 5, 1007) and visited Chichen Itza. Our tour only stayed 21/2 hours which is not enough time to see everything. They also just recently stopped allowing people to climb up the Pyramid stairs, so we were unable to.
31st March 2008

try the other Mayan ruins
Having been to Chitzen Itza, and been able to climb the Pyramid (2003) and seen the Ball Court perfromance, Cenote these are impressive. But try and see Coba. It is still in the jungle, almost tourist free,Whenwe ere there last, you could still climg the pyramid there. They have bi-lingual guides from $5 to $20 negotiable, They have two passenger bycycle taxi's that cost about $5. I found them better. Enjoy
31st May 2008

Climb if you dare or still can
I climbed to the top of El Castillo on my honeymoon in 1998. Although almost ten years ago, I can still vividly remember the experience. It was fairly is to climb up, climbing down was the difficult part. The steps are steeper than they look. I ended up having to use my hands and rear end to scale back down to prevent falling over. If you can go, you must try it! Chitzen Itza is an impressive Mayan ruin site...try to go during equinox the shadow serpent is a mind blowing trip so I've heard.
10th June 2008

Chitzen Itza
I just got back from cancun, mexico and visited the site and to answer the question.. yes it is closed to climb because of a death. It's 100 ft tall and very steep. Since some people fell to their death, it's forbidden to climb and is roped off.
13th June 2008

I just got back from mexico about two weeks ago (6/10/08) and went to the chitzen itza. It was amazing but i have a question. i want to know if these are the same temples that are in the movie Mel Gibson directed apaculipto? can anyone answer my question?
16th June 2008

No climby climb, no walky ini
Went there last can't go anywhere near it because of people scraping their names / initials (apparently). For me, seeing it was good enough!
30th October 2008

Visit to Chichen Itza
My husband and I visited Chichen Itza in 2001. It was a spectacular visit & tour. Amazing after all of these years, such history is still so nicely preserved. What a learning lesson and one of the best parts of our trip. We did get to climb the pyramid and it was very steep. It was the most beautiful view from the top and a slow front walk down by sitting and taking one step at a time. If someone did fall from here, that would have been awful and understood why they do not allow for people to climb anymore. I am very glad to have visited when I did and get to experience the climb. Even at 29 and in good shape, it took my breath away.
18th July 2009

A must see sight, great tour. But take plenty of water. Very hot, dampen your hat & even your T shirt/vest.
19th November 2009

climbing this pyramid was the most amazing experiance! It's too bad that they stopped letting people climb this magnificant tower! I wish i got to see the light show that they put on every night. If you are near Playa Del Carmen, you should go and see it!

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