Chichen Itza, Mexico

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November 25th 2008
Published: December 1st 2008
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Chichen Itza ( or "At the mouth of the well of the Itza") is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula. It was the third Mayan temple so far on my trip and being so close to Cancun, it was by far the most heavily touristed (is that a word?). It is also one of the seven wonders of the world, but I don´t think that it was all that. Lots of old temples, not a lot known about them so I just wandered around for a few hours, took photos and got the bus southeast on to Tulum on the Caribbean coast.

Additional photos below
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"El Castillo" (the castle) - main building"El Castillo" (the castle) - main building
"El Castillo" (the castle) - main building

. This step pyramid has a ground plan of square terraces with stairways up each of the 4 sides to the temple on top. On the Spring and Autumn equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl - along the side of the North staircase. On these two days, the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid with the sun's movement.
Temple of the Warriors Temple of the Warriors
Temple of the Warriors

he Temple of the Warriors complex consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors. This complex is analogous to Temple B at the Toltec capital of Tula, and indicates some form of cultural contact between the two regions. The one at Chichen Itza, however, was constructed on a larger scale. At the top of the stairway on the pyramid’s summit (and leading towards the entrance of the pyramid’s temple) is a Chac Mool.
La Iglesia and hawkerLa Iglesia and hawker
La Iglesia and hawker

The Spanish nicknamed this complex Las Monjas ("The Nuns" or "The Nunnery") but was actually a governmental palace. Just to the east is a small temple (nicknamed La Iglesia, "The Church") decorated with elaborate masks of the rain god Chaac. This man tried to sell me drugs.
El CaracolEl Caracol
El Caracol

o the north of Las Monjas is a cockeyed, round building on a large square platform nicknamed El Caracol or "the snail" for the stone spiral staircase inside. The structure, because of its unusual placement on the platform and round shape (the others are rectangular, in keeping with Mayan practice), is theorized to be a proto-observatory with doors and windows aligned to astronomical events, specifically around the path of Venus as it traverses the heavens.

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