Chichén Itzá, Up Close

The main attraction of this trip for Mr. Adventurer was Chichén Itzá. He had admired the Mayan culture for a long time. It’s a nice educational experience for the kids as well. So, we decided to visit it first while the weather was still nice. We drove two and half hours to Chichén Itzá. There were lush green trees along the two-lane road, kind of like in the States. There was a toll booth midway. When we arrived, we saw many vendors outside the entrance.

Vendors

Vendors

Natives outside

“Natives”

After we bought tickets and entered, we encountered two tour guides. One started talking to us. He asked for $560 pesos for a tour in English. We negotiated down to $400 pesos, which turned out to be a good decision.

The tour guide first explained the meaning of Chichén Itzá and showed us the artificial elevation of the ground area. He also told us the history of the original Mayan immigration from Guatemala.

We toured the ballcourt first. It’s 225 feet wide by 545 feet long. The tour guide demonstrated echoing where a word uttered at one end of the wall can be heard at the other end of the wall 500+ feet away. The inside of the four walls of the ballcourt were tilted inward a little bit, the acoustic secret for the echoing.

Carving of Kukulkan

Mural carving of the feathered serpent god Kukulkan

Observatory for high power people

Observatory for priests and upper-class citizens

Unrestored wall of ball court

Unrestored outside wall of ball court

The day was dry and hot. By the tzompantli or skull platform, we were happy to find some shade. The Mayans worshipped thirteen gods, and we saw one representation of offerings to them that was excavated underground.

Making offer to god

Offerings to the gods

Then, we toured the main structure, El Castillo (The Castle). It was constructed in 1050 AD, during the late Mayan period, when the Toltecs from Tula became politically powerful. There were four staircases with 91 steps each, totaling 364, plus the platform at the top, the days of a year. The Mayans had 18 months of 20 days each, followed by 5 extra days, known as Uayeb and were believed by the Mayans as unlucky days. The one we saw today was the outer pyramid. There’s also a smaller one inside of it. 

The pyramid was specially designed so that when people clapped, the noise vibrated up the limestone steps and up to the top of the tower where it circulated inside the inner room which had walls within walls until it escaped and sounded like a quetzal’s chirp. The tour guide demonstrated it to us. We recorded the transformation of the clap.

I took a picture of El Castillo when no one was near it

El Castillo, the pyramid of Kukulkan

After that, our tour guide showed us the Templo de los Guerreros or Temple of the Warriors. There are 488 columns still standing today.

Temple of a Thousand Warriors and columns

Temple of a Thousand Warriors

Last, we stopped by the excavation next to El Castillo. The excavation showed the base of the inner pyramid under El Castillo. And that concluded the tour. We paid and gave our many thanks to the tour guide.

There were many more vendors selling for souvenirs inside Chichén Itzá. Adventurer Jr. especially liked a two tone (white and blue) quartz pyramid. The vendor asked for $300 pesos. After several rounds of negotiation, we paid $100 pesos. Mr. Adventurer also wanted to purchase a Mayan calendar ($10 USD for it instead of the $20 USD asking price).

Mayan calendar

Mayan calendar

On our way back to the hotel zone, we stopped at the Valladolid town square. It’s pretty small. To my surprise, there were many tour buses there as well. Adventurer Jr. took a picture of the Cathedral of San Servacio. We also drove around Parque Francisco Canton Rosado. I bought two postcards for $20 pesos. 

Lovers chairs in Parque Francisco Canton Rosado

Lovers’ chairs in Parque Francisco Canton Rosado

Next in the series: Chill out in Hotel Zone


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Chichén Itzá, Up Close — 1 Comment

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