Chichen Itza is the second most popular site for visitors to Mexico. It is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the New World. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza was a large city built by the Maya people. It thrived from about 600 AD., until 1221, when the power in the region shifted to Mayapan. Today it can be visited by tourists and religious pilgrims alike.
Interesting Chichen Itza Facts:
Chichen Itza also means ‘at the mouth of the well of the Itza’.
Chichen Itza may have been built where it was because of the location of two large natural sink holes nearby that would have provided water year-round.
One of these sink holes was thought to have been used as a place of human sacrifice. These sacrifices were made in times of drought, and men, women and children would be thrown in the well as a sacrifice to the Chac God. The Chac God is the Maya God of rain and lightning and these sacrifices were done to end drought.
The Castillo is probably the most famous image of Chichen Itza. Castillo means castle in Spanish. The Castillo is a monument in the shape of a pyramid. There are four staircases on the outside of the pyramid. The image of the Castillo has been popularized in media.
In about 600 AD. Chichen Itza had started to gain importance in the region. Between 900 and 1050 AD. Chichen Itza had become a powerful capital. It also controlled northern and central Yucatan at the time.
It was one of the largest Maya cities and also had the most diverse population in any Maya population. It covered five square kilometers.
Many of the Maya people that lived in Chichen Itza were very skilled craftsmen, including sculptors, weavers, jewelers and potters.
There is a wide variety of architectural styles that is attributed to the fact that Chichen Itza had such diverse population and culture.
The people of Chichen Itza built strong allies with regional tribes and this helped them thrive for two centuries.
There is archaeological evidence to support the theory that civil war broke out in about 1221.and the power of Yucatan shifted to Mayapan, leaving Chichen Itza behind.
Chichen Itza may have been a religious center for a period of time and is believed to have been a pilgrimage place for the Maya. Some suggest that the site where Chichen Itza was built was already a popular place of pilgrimage long before building of the city ever began.
All the buildings of Chichen Itza are made from stone. It’s also thought that the Maya did no use the wheel to build any of their temples, pyramids or palaces.
Some of the most famous buildings in Chichen Itza that have survived include: The Warrior’s Temple, El Castillo, and The Great Ball Court.
Chichen Itza is considered to be one the Seven Wonders of the New World.
Part of what sparked an interest in Chichen Itza was a book (travel journal) written by John Lloyd Stephens in 1843 called Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. Further exploration of the city began from the interest and imagination of his readers. By 1875 a statue had been recovered and excavation continued.
Approximately 1.2 million people visit the ruins of Chichen Itza every year.