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Chichen Itza: Mexico’s Most Famous Mayan Ruins

The Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen Itza is located on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, making for a long day trip from either Merida or, more commonly, the Riviera Maya.

While Chichen Itza was the Mayan ruins everyone in my group was most looking forward to at the start of our trip, Palenque became our favorite.

Chichen Itza seemed a little too well restored, too clean, too touristy, whereas Palenque was still very covered up by the jungle, with far fewer tourists.

The 30-meter tall Temple of Kukulkan, known as El Castillo ("the castle") at Chichen Itza.
The 30-meter tall Temple of Kukulkan, known as El Castillo (“the castle”).

Throughout its nearly 1,000-year history, different peoples have left their mark on the city.

The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in their stone monuments and artistic works.

The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico make Chichen-Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán.

UNESCO
For safety reasons, tourists are no longer allowed to climb El Castillo
For safety reasons, tourists are no longer allowed to climb El Castillo.
The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza is 150 meters long, the largest and best preserved of the 13 ball courts discovered in Mesoamerica
The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza is 150 meters long, the largest and best-preserved of the 13 ball courts discovered in Mesoamerica.
The walls of the Great Ball Court are 8 meters high at Chichen Itza.
The walls of the Great Ball Court are 8 meters high.
Rings carved in the shapes of intertwined serpents are built high up on each of the side walls of the Great Ball Court
Rings carved in the shapes of intertwined serpents are built high up on each of the sidewalls of the Great Ball Court.
Members of my G Adventures group stand in front of the Templo del Hombre Barbado (Temple of the Bearded Man) located at the northern end of the Great Ball Court
My G Adventures group members stand in front of the Templo del Hombre Barbado (Temple of the Bearded Man), located at the northern end of the Great Ball Court.
During times of drought, the Mayans would perform sacrifices at this cenote, named Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote).
During times of drought, the Mayans would perform sacrifices at this cenote, named Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote).
Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors) at Chichen Itza.
Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors)
El Caracol (The Snail) is believed to have been used as an observatory for astronomical events
El Caracol (The Snail) is believed to have been used as an observatory for astronomical events.
La Iglesia (The Church) is a small temple decorated with carved carved masks
La Iglesia (The Church) is a small temple decorated with carved masks.
A parting shot of El Castillo
A parting shot of El Castillo.

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The Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen Itza became a World Heritage Site in 1988.

Click here for the complete list of UNESCO sites Dave has visited during his travels.

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My Mexico Ancient Civilizations tour was in partnership with G Adventures

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