The centerpiece of my Cancun vacation. The long bus ride from Cancun reached its destination. CHICHEN ITZA. Chichen Itza means "at the mouth of the well of Itza". There are many ruins in this ancient city, the pyramid or El Castillo is the main attraction, being one of the most popular and recognized tourist sites of Mexico and as of 07/07/07 it has become one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.
For this post I will focus on the pyramid.
El Castillo (Kukulkan-Quetzalcoatl) a square-based step pyramid was built for astronomical purposes and during the vernal equinox (March 20) and autumnal equinox (Sept 21) the sun bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid's main stairway. This causes seven isosceles triangles to form the body of a huge serpent 37 yards long that creeps downwards until it joins the huge serpent's head at the bottom of the stairway. This is what they call the "symbolic descent of Kukulkan (the feathered serpent) - this is a huge tourist draw. Our tour guide in Puerto Vallarta informed us that one must make reservations for this event months in advance.
El Castillo served as a temple to the god Kukulkan and is believed to have served as a calendar. Each of the structure's four stairways contains 91 steps. When counting the top platform as another step, in total El Castillo has 365 steps, one step for each day of the year.
The structure is 24 m (78 ft) tall, plus and additional 6 m (20 ft) for the temple top for a total height of 30 m (98 ft). The square base measures 55.3 m (181 ft) across.
Climbing to the top of the pyramid is no longer allowed - sigh - we were a few years late in visiting.
The magnificent pyramid. I was skywatching.
Excavations next to the pyramid started in 2009.
I am eager to find out what else they will unearth.
This side is where the acoustics was excellent. The guide demonstrates how when you clap on this side, you will hear echoes coming from the left side. It was amazing.
People were advised to come here in early morning as the sun could get "punishing" - that is the word they used - but we were lucky to have pleasant weather - not too hot and there was breeze every so often - even though we arrived after lunchtime.
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On deck: Other ruins in Chichen Itza