Skip to content »
Skip to second navigation »



Chichén Itzá, Journey Back to the Land of Gods

Published by Kristin Cowles, Editor-in-Chief

Country: Mexico

The Experience

The ruins of Chichén Itzá take you back in time to an era of a vast and powerful Mayan empire, once the center of being for all of the Yucutan civilization ruling over politics, religion, and military. Today the ceremonial structures and various other buildings that were in their time of grandeur between 800 - 1200 A.D are in various states of preservation, and open for travelers to explore. Set in a clearing surrounded by jungle, the history of Chichén Itzá entails stories of humans sacrifices and ultimately a violent end spurred by a revolt against the reigning powers that shifted development away from Chichén Itzá. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was recently declared one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. Exploring the secret rooms, passages, and summits at Chichén Itzá, make you feel like you are the first to delve into the mysteries that lay around each corner.

The site has many fascinating stone buildings that are a must see when exploring this lost Mayan world. El Castillo also known as the temple of Kukulkan, will stop you in your tracks once you pass though the turnstile to enter into Chichén Itzá. This temple is particularly intriguing at the rising and setting of the sun during Spring and Fall Equinox, when the suns shadow casts the impression of a snake slithering down the North stairway. Another complex called the Temple of Warriors includes many large stepped pyramids scattered amongst many rows of carved columns that depict various warriors, and is adjacent to the Great Market. Las Monjas, also known as “The Nunnery” is one of the more captivating complexes built in Puuc architecture style, the structures here are believed to be living quarters for the elite Mayans and are covered in relief carvings. There are 7 ball courts, but the most notable is the Great Ball Court approximately 150 meters north west of El Castillo. These ball courts housed many games and festivities and at each end of the field is a raised temple in which you can envision Mayan Kings sitting in presiding over the activities. It is said that the captain of the winning team would present himself to the captain of the losing team to be decapitated. It might seem a bit backwards, but the Mayans believed this tradition to be the highest honor, granting them direct access to heaven versus the 13 steps Mayan culture believed they had to go through.
Just east of the primary ruins is an underground world called Cenoté. To get into these underground caves with glowing cool water set against the backdrop of blood read stalagmites you must climb down steep vertical hole, with entry steps carved by the Mayans themselves thousands of years ago.

Photos

Map

Puzzle

When to Go to Chichen Itza

The best time to visit Chichén Itzá is between February and May to avoid hurricane season, but keep in mind that May is the hottest driest month. The average temperature is around 80 degrees fahrenheit, but in hotter months can easily hit 105 degrees. July through September temperatures are at their peak, with higher chances of rain, this is also the mosquito season so be sure to pack the bug repellent. November, December and January are typically the coolest months, with little rain. It can get very cold at night so warm clothes are a must. If you are planning to align your trip to take advantage of the Spring or Fall Equinox then you will need to visit during March 20-21 or September 21-22. For optimum viewing of the Serpent during Equinox snag a seat near the great courtyard which faces the western summit of El Castillo.

Odds n' Ends

Chichén Itzá is open year round from 8 to 5:30. There are two main options to consider on how you want to get to the ruins, either by tour bus or by renting a car. Its advantageous spending the extra cash and renting a car to avoid the unnecessary delays that can be standard on some bus tours. Renting a car also allows you to set you own agenda and pace, which means you can get there early to avoid the crowds that invade later in the day. The drive to Chichén Itzá is well marked, and takes approximately 2 hours from Cancun. Kids 13 and under receive free entry to the park while the cost for adults is under $10 Canadian. Your entry fee also gives you the ability to watch the nightly light show that narrates the stories and legends of the Maya people over the walls of the various stone temples. The ruins are marked with several plaques in English, Spanish, and Mayan that explain the various details and legends of each site. You can also opt to hire a local guide for approximately $25 - $35 for one to two hours. Be sure to pack lots of water to avoid dehydration, sunscreen and good walking shoes.

Carpe Diem! Book to do this experience now!

During your stay in Cancun, you simply must take the opportunity to visit Chichen Itza, the most important archaeological zone in Yucatan. Explore the ancient ...
Starting from $62.10 per person.

Video

Video Wall

You are now being transfered to our Video Wall

Language Guides

Japanese , Spanish are some of the languages spoken in Mexico. If you know of a freely available phrase book or podcast for one of the missing languages, let us know!


Discussion

Experienced this and have something to share? Experienced something like this somewhere else? Looking for advise or travel companions? Use this space to leave your mark. Our writers and editors are more than happy to help answer your questions.

People with experience


People who wish to experience


Recent Tweets

Listed below are the most recent comments made on Twitter for "chichen itza":