The ancient city of Chichen Itza, with its grand pyramids and ornate temples, is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world. Dating back almost 1500 years, this once thriving Mayan city on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula was the capital as well as cultural and social centre of a once far-reaching civilisation.
The most dominant feature of this symbolic place is the towering and iconic El Castillo with its imposing staircases leading to the main temple on top. View the pyramid in just the right light and a shadowy serpent can be seen along the stone staircase complete with a stone head at the base of the pyramid. The serpent is just one of the many secrets to be revealed at Chichen Itza!
Chichen Itza is a World Heritage-listed site and is maintained by the National Institute of Anthropology and History. When visiting the site, multi-lingual tour guides are available, however the ruins and grounds are open for self-guided exploration.
Besides the main attraction of El Castillo (the castle) other must-see features of Chichen Itza include the Observatory, resembling a modern day space exploration centre with its rounded structure and domed like top, the Sweatbaths, where Mayans would go for spiritual rejuvenation, and the Temple of the Jaguars, that includes striking ancient murals.
Chichen Itza is about a 90-minute drive west of Cancun and a similar distance east of Yucatan’s capital city, Merida. Located near the major highway between the two cities, the historic site can be reached by ADO bus or courtesy of one of the many tour operators.