On my bucket list, towards the top, was my wish to visit the 1600 acre Chichén Itzá Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. Chichén Itzá, a UNSECO World Heritage Site, is one of Mexico’s most visited tourist sites and has been named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
It was a long 3 hour drive from Cancun, where we were staying, to get to Chichen Itza and once you drive into Yucatan, it is 1 hour behind in terms of time zone.
The iconic image that everyone has when they think of Chichén Itzá is the famous, 365 step pyramid El Castillo, also known as The Pyramid of Kukulkan, on which you can see the shadow of a serpent seemingly crawling down the steps during the spring and autumn equinoxes. This is based on the ancient Mesoamerican calendar. 365 steps represent the 365 days.
El Castillo has a secret though, and buried within it is a staircase, discovered in the 1930’s, which leads to a smaller temple chamber which has a Cha Mool statue and a Jaguar shaped throne with jade stones encrusted on it.
Aside from El Castillo, there was just so much to see it was incredible! The various remains told a story of a civilisation, who were so intelligent and you could envisage their lives and lifestyle through the various ruins and what they represented.
The Mayans used complex scientific and mathematical theories to create amazing and very grand temples, all symmetrical and perfect.
There was a massive ball court and a few others, where games would be played, and places of worship, homes and wells, known as cenotes. Sacrifices would be made here.
The grounds were massive and there was just so much history and significance at every corner. It is definitely time well spent and a sightseeing trip very much worth doing.
As part of our trip we also visited Ek Balam cenote, where people can dive in and swim and it is so peaceful. We were happy to watch everyone else swim but enjoyed it nevertheless.
These beautiful natural formations were hugely important to the Mayans, and they conducted sacrificial offerings and rituals in these sacred wells.
I have 5 top tips, if you are planning to visit Chichén Itzá:
- Be prepared for the journey as it is a return journey, 3 hours each way from Cancun. It is definitely worth it though! Of all the countries and places I have visited so far, this has definitely been absolutely amazing and so impressive.
- Carry a bottle of water and wear a hat as the heat can be very intense.
- Definitely pay for a local guide as you learn so much which you would miss if you tried to do the tour on your own. Can be pricey but worthwhile.
- Keep some cash (especially change) to buy souvenirs as there are some lovely items available.
- Take a decent camera as the ruins are just phenomenal and trust me, you want to capture it all!
Have you visited the Mayan ruins? What were your highlights?