Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ruins of Chichen Itza

El Castillo — Temple of Kukulcan
Met Jaime at 8:00 at the Hacienda so we could see the ruins of Chichen Itza early, while it was fairly quiet. We walked the short private trail and soon we were in the ruins.

Private path to Chichén Itzá Ruins
Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city started by the Maya people in the Classic period. It is located at the northern end of the Yucatan Peninsula and was greatly influenced by the Toltec culture in the Post-Classic period. It flourished from 200 to 1200 CE. Chichen Itza is rich in buildings & sculptures.

The name Chichen Itza derives from the Sacred Cenote as the "mouth of the well of the Itza". The Itza were a powerful Maya group in the area. The city is divided into  two parts and periods. The earliest is in the South part of the city and is Classic Maya with buildings that display distinct "Puuc" architectural styles and is constructed on a north-south axis. 

The northern part of Chichen displays many hallmarks of the Toltec Culture dating 900 to 1200 CE. Its unknown if the Toltecs either conquered the city or there was cultural and trade sharing between the two cultures. There are still a lot of Mysteries concerning Chichen Itza and it's wonderful to explore.

El Osario

Corbeled Arch

El Akab Dzib
Coming from the south, the first Maya building we came to was El Akab Dzib in the Central Group east of The Caracol. Akab Dzib is a "Puuc" style building whose name means the House of Dark Writing, in the sense of Mysterious Writings. Royal family may have lived here.

Las Monjas, is a complex of buildings constructed in the "Puuc" style. The Spanish named the complex Las Monjas ( The Nunnery) but it was actually a government Palace. The Las Monjas Group is distinguished by a group of Hieroglyphic texts dating from the end of the Classic era. The texts mention a ruler named Kakupakal.

Iquana Welcome at Las Monjas
Casa de Las Monjas 

El Caracol
El Caracol (The Snail) is located northeast of Las Monjas. It is an Astronomically oriented round building on a large square platform. El Caracol, with its round building is thought to have been an observatory that has doors and windows aligned with astronomical events, particularly Venus.

Great Ballcourt
Archaeologists have identified thirteen Mesoamerican ballcourts for playing the sacred ballgame in Chichen Itza. The Great Ball Court is by far the most impressive as it is the largest and best preserved in all of Mesoamerica. 
Bench Panel – Captains Head is Left, Snakes of Blood is Right
At the base of the ball court the walls are 6 ft benches with sculpted panels. In one panel, the captain of one team has been decapitated; the wound emits streams of blood in the form wiggling snakes. 

In fact, in the sacred ball game there were 6 team members and the captain played on the bench alone. The captain  was the only one who could hit the hard rubber ball through the hoop. When the winning captain finally hit the ball through the hole, he was decapitated, as losing ones head was an honor in this sport. Some game!

Temple of Kulkucan
El Castillo is the Temple of Kukulcan who is a Maya feathered serpent god similar to Quetzalcoatl. The 98 stepped pyramid dominates the North Platform of Chichen Itza. On the spring and autumn equinoxes, in late afternoon, the shadow of the pyramid shows what seems to be a serpent wriggling down the staircase that is thought to be the Plumed Serpent god Kulkucan. There are over 25,000 people who come for the event. Climbing the pyramid stairs is now closed for who would like to do it. It has been closed since January 2006 following the death of a tourist. 

Small Ballcourt
Modern Maya
Going to see Chichen Itza is a fantastic thing to do but it has to be planned out in order to miss the Day-trippers from Cancun that crowd the site. That's the good thing about staying at Hacienda Chichen, you can go early and late to miss the crowds who are there from roughly 10am to 4pm.

Highly Recommended!

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