One of the great monuments of the world, which just recently was declared a monument of world heritage, is Chichen Itza. This is one of the largest pre-Columbian archaeological sites built by the Mayans. The ancient Mayan ruins of this city are quite large and expand over a four mile area. These are some of the most awe inspiring archaeological places you can ever visit.
No one really knows when this great Mayan city was built, but we do know that their golden period was about 600A.D. Chichen Itza is a Mayan word which means “At the mouth of the well of the Itza,” which is a very logical name because this area of Yucatan is arid and there is no above ground water. The city was founded next to two cenotes, or large natural sink holes, created by earlier volcanic movement. These cenotes were large enough to provide enough water throughout the year for the city.
In the early 1900’s, diving excursion began in the cenotes and many important gold, jade and silver artifacts were found among the many bones from cadavers. This indicates that sacrifices were made to the god of rain, in thanks for the ample supply of water. During the height of the Mayan rule Chichen Itza was a major force in both political and economical power. This city learned to trade by sea, which is why they were able to obtain resources from distant places like central Mexico and Central America.
Although we know when the city reigned as one of the greatest powers of the Mayan culture, we are not sure why the city died out so suddenly. Evidence collected when the ruins were discovered indicate that many buildings were burned and much destruction, which indicates a possible conquering by another tribe. Some experts believe there is evidence of the Toltec King Quetzalcoatl’s arrival from central Mexico.One of the most interesting things about this city is the fact that the temples are designed with such exact science. The seven temples are designed in such a way as to represent time, they represent the seasons and days of the years.
The temples are amazing works of art and each has its own special uniqueness. When you enter the site, the first temple you will see is the “Piramide de Kukulcan” which has 365 steps (the days of the year), 52 different panels and 18 terraces. During the spring and fall equinox you will see that as the sun touches the steps on the northern side, the shadow of a moving serpent will appear.
The other temples are just as fabulous with amazing stone carvings, and murals of life, and conquering battles of the society. Much of this magnificent culture is still a mystery, but anyone who visits the site comes away with a feeling of greatness and awe for a strong, intelligent, and mysterious nation, which disappeared without reason.