Chichen-Itza

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The Pyramid of Kukúlcan Chichen Itza
Yucatan Region of Mexico
constructed 1100-1300 A.D.

Many years ago, a group of warriors called the Itzá, conquered a city in what is today part of the Yucatan in Mexico. They called it Chichén-Itzá, which means place of the "mouth of the well of the Itzá".

The area around Chichén-Itzá had a least two such wells called cenotes, the most famous being the Cenote of Sacrifice.

The Mayas who lived in Chichén-Itzá built many palaces, temples, and monuments. They not only were powerful warriors but also wise men who studied the stars and left a written record of their history in the form of carved glyphs.

Many kings governed the city and gave orders to construct higher and higher buildings. As the Mayas were great artists, they painted them with many colors and decorated them with beautiful sculptures. In many of them you can see a feathered snake. It was its main god named Kukulcán.

Their wise priests had an observatory built in the shape of a shell to study the stars and foretell the future. They also had their own ball games. To practice it they built a great ball court with walls and stands. They played with rubber balls that they should pass through rings of stone. Only the kings, the priests, and the most important warriors lived in the great palaces. The common people lived in huts made of straw located near the pyramids.

This pyramid is called the Ossuary and like the Pyramid of Kukulcán there are four sets of steps with large serpants' heads resting on the ground and atop the pyramid is a high temple decorated with Chaac masks on its walls. There are pillars with masks of the rain god found at the base of the pyramid.

This structure covers a deep cavern which leads to another urban center outside of Chichén Itzá. There is a shaft cut into the center of the pyramid which archeologists say represents the entrance to the World of the Dead--where both the Maya paradise as well as its inferno were represented.

Several tombs with rich offerings of precious stones and copper have been found inside the shaft. The wealth of the objects found inside one of the tombs led its discoverer Edward Thompson to believe that this was the tomb of a great Mayan priest.



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