One of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico, Chichen Itza is a large city built by the Maya.
The main focus at Chichen Itza is the pyramid-like El Castillo. Built sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries, El Castillo served as a temple to the god Kukulkan – the feathered serpent. Our guide informed us that during the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun strikes off the northwest corner of the pyramid and casts a series of triangular shadows against its surface, creating the illusion of a feathered serpent “crawling” down the pyramid.
El Castillo is 24 metres high and each of the four sides has 91 steps which, when added together (and including the temple platform on top as the final step), produces a total of 365 steps – one for every day of the year.
For those hoping to walk up it, sadly it’s closed off to the public these days. If you’re feeling energetic though, the ruins at Coba (another Maya city) present you with the opportunity to climb up and scramble down!
Chichen Itza is one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World” – the other six being; Christ Redeemer, Brazil; The Great Wall, China; Machu Picchu, Peru; Petra, Jordan; The Colosseum, Italy and The Taj Mahal, India. I’m glad I’ve visited and ticked another one off the list…but if I’m honest it didn’t quite have the same impact as The Taj Mahal or The Colosseum.
Our journey back took us via Valladolid, a quaint yet lively city. You could be forgiven for thinking you were in Spain (or elsewhere in Europe) thanks to its vibrant atmosphere, architecture and plaza-like parks. We also got chance to explore the cave at Cenote Zaci, a landscaped cenote (underground sinkhole!)
Our visit to Valladolid also included a late-lunch which meant we got to experience some of the traditional local dishes including Lomitos de Valladolid – a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce.
We booked the Xichén Deluxe Tour through Experiencias Xcaret which included; round trip luxury transportation with air conditioning and bathrooms; breakfast on board the coach; access to Chichen Itza, bottle of water with bottle holder; 1 hour guided tour plus 1 hour free time; free soft drinks, water and beer, plus the visit to Cenote Zaci and buffet meal in Valladolid.