Chichen Itza is a Spanish term which translates into “at the mouth of the well of Itza”. Established before the period of Christopher Colombus, it was one of the largest Mayan cities. Temples, columned arcades and pyramids characterize the Chichen Itza ruins, which was formerly a sophisticated urban center. With an estimated 1.2 million tourists visiting the ruins every year, Chichen Itza happens to be one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.
The Mayans flourished from around 250 AD to 900 AD in regions which are presently Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Peninsula of Yucatan. About 987 the Toltec ruler of central Mexico came to Chichen Itza and established it as a center of pilgrimage. In its nearly 1,000 years of existence, different civilizations have left their mark on this city.
Today, Chichen Itza is home to one of the new seven wonders of the world; the Kukulkan Pyramid. This is a temple-pyramid dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, Kukulcan, with sculptures of the Feathered Serpents running down the sides of the northern staircase. El Castillo or the Kukulkan Pyramid has come to be identified as the most recognizable feature of Chichen Itza. In fact, its construction demonstrates the accuracy for which Maya astronomy is renowned. The temple has 365 steps—one for each day of the year.
Old Chichen is also an important site of these ruins. Located on the south of the commonly visited Maya ruins, it is the private property of Hacienda Chichen and is currently closed to the public. Some of the other notable structures in Chichen Itza include The Nunnery Complex, Great Ballcourt, Sweatbaths among numerous others.
How To Access Chichen Itza
As far as accessing Chichen Itza is concerned, it is located between Valladolid and Merida in the Yucatan State of Mexico. The nearest international airports to the ancient site are at Mérida, which is 120 km away and at Cancun, which is approximately two and a half hours. There are numerous buses from these airports which connect to Chichen Itza.
Best Time To Visit Chichen Itza
As far as the best time to visit Chichén Itzá is concerned, there is no such duration as the climate is consistently tropical, with moderate average temperatures. However, if you do plan a visit around the spring and autumn equinoxes, you will definitely catch a glimpse of the incredible shadow serpent of El Castillo.
Important Information About Chichen Itza
• The site is open on all days for visitors.
• Chichen Itza opens at 9 am in the morning and remains open till 5 pm in the evening.
• Entrance fee is $ 98 pesos, which includes the fee of the Light and Sound Show.
• Light and sound show begins every night at 7:00 pm in Fall and winter and at 8:00 pm in spring and summer.
• Climbing to the top of El Castillo is strictly forbidden.
• Entrance lockers for suitcases and bags are available.
• Wear comfortable shoes for walking and carry a bottle of water around always.
For an exciting vacation, plan a trip to Chichen Itza !