Chichen Itza

Wednesday, 8th October 2008 by

Chichen Itza (Wikipedia) is one of the largest and most significant Mayan sites in Mexico. El Castillo (the Castle) is a 30m high pyramid and temple that is the focal point of the site.

At the spring and autumn equinox, the rising and setting sun hits the corner of the pyramid to form a shadow resembling a serpent. Climbing such pyramids is not for the faint-hearted, and El Castillo has been closed to tourists since 2006 when somebody fell to their death.

Between approximately AD 600 and AD 1000 Chichen Itza dominated social, political and economic aspects of life in this area of the Mayan civilization. Its population is estimated to have been between 40,000 and 50,000.

Archaeologists continue to discover new structures buried in the forest. Significant locations currently visible (map) include the great ball court used for a game vaguely similar to volleyball and the cenotes or wells of sacrifice.

Imagery of other Mayan sites such as Tikal in Guatemala is not so impressive. Let us know if you find other Mayan sites with good resolution.

Thanks to Paul Wilson.