Chichen Itza Cancun is one of Mexico’s biggest and most famous tourist sites. 125 kilometres from Cancun and Cozumel it is a major landmark on the Yucatan Peninsula. Filled with huge temples, ancient carvings and a fairly fatal football pitch, Chichen Itza was a place of trade, culture and history for the Mayan people.
The Temple of Kukulkan, or El Castillo, pictured above was built under specific astronomic specifications. The structure is one of a whole series of temples, pyramids and other structures sacred to the Maya people. There are 365 steps, one for each day of the year. Each side has 91, which with the top makes 365 again, a reference to the year. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, a snake shadow falls on the temple. As the sun sets the snake gradually slithers down the steps.
The site is also home to a deadly ball pitch, the largest in the area measuring 168 metres long and 70 metres wide. This is where ritual games were played. Players had to hit a 12-pound ball through stone scoring hoops. This wasn’t exactly fun and games though – the losing players were put to death.
At the same site as El Castillo, you’ll also find a sacred cenote, a huge natural well, 60 metres wide. Chichen Itza has been inducted into the New Seven Wonders of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mystery still shrouds Chichen Itza. Sometime around the 1400s the city was abandoned. Most of its inhabitants fled to the jungle, and although scientists have speculated, there is no clear reason for the city’s downfall.
Find out more about holidays in Mexico where you can discover Chichen Itza Cancun from Purple Travel.