Chichen Itza is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, which also includes India’s Taj Mahal, China’s Great Wall, Italy’s Coliseum, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Jordan’s Petra, and Brazil’s Christ Redeemer. I had the opportunity today to see why Chichen Itza was made one of the 7, and agree that it’s quite the Wonder!
We joined a private tour, ran by Cancun With Me, rated one of the top tour companies in Cancun by Tripadvisor. Our driver, Sergio, picked us up promptly at 6:30am to make our drive out to Chichen Itza, which is over 2 hours from Cancun. We wanted to ensure that we beat the large tour buses to the site. Our wonderful driver also booked us a local guide at Chichen Itza, vouched as one of the better local guides for the site. When we arrived, Julian, our multilingual tour guide met us at the gates and brought us into Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza is an amazing historical site as we approached El Castillo, the large pyramid spectacular made by the Mayans. Julian described the history of the Mayan and Tortega cultures and how they merged together to form the Itza population. He explained that although Chichen Itza was a symbolic temple created by Mayan architecture, the history of Chichen is formed through the Tortegas coming to the land. The large Itza pyramid was for the Mayans to worship the new Tortega created god, the Kukulcan, the serpent god. However, the other symbolism of Chichen Itza is that the pyramid also stood as a calendar for the Mayans. There’s 365 stairs that make up the pyramid (365 days), along with 52 little squares that look like windows on a complete face of the pyramid (52 years in a Mayan century), and 18 platforms on each face (18 months in the Mayan calendar).
Julian, of Mayan descent, described the various ominous symbols of the Chichen Itza, along with the detailed history about how human sacrifices were made on the site, specifically that they gave the best of the best as human sacrifices to the Gods. The ruins of a ballpark showed drawings of a Mayan ball game called Pok ta Pok, where the winner has its head cut off as an honorable way to die for being sacrificed. The cenotes in Chichen Itza was discovered to have children remains, meaning the Itzas sacrificed children, specifically ages 4-12 who were born in the days not accounted for in the Mayan Calendar, August 6-10.
|The Ballpark where they played Pok Ta Pok|
Aside from the history of the ruins in Chichen Itza, Julian was also able to inform us that 2012 does not signify the end of the world, despite what Hollywood tells us. You mean Hollywood is lying? He claims that Hollywood took the end of a 52 year cycle of the Mayan calendar as the end of the world, however, every 52 years is like Western calendar’s 100 year (a decade). In 2012, the Mayans in Mexico will actually be celebrating and bringing in a new decade with positive thinking, not a negative doomsday approach.
What I really enjoyed about my tour was the professionalism and storytelling talents Julian possessed. He was animated, friendly, and had a fluent background of languages. In addition to English and Spanish, Julian speaks Mayan, Italian, French, and German. Any questions we had about the site, he was able to explain through a story. He even had a story about ghostly encounters in Chichen! Also, as our tour guaranteed an early start to Chichen, we arrived before the tour buses and were able to take photos without huge groups of people in front of the ruins. Later in the afternoon as we were leaving, more tour buses were arriving, and the heat of the location was getting hotter than in the morning. We were definitely luckier to have booked a private tour and Julian as well.
We finished our trip out to Chichen with some bargaining for souvenirs from the many rows of vendors set up inside Chichen Itza along the walking paths.
Time spent at Chichen Itza recommended 2.5 hours, however we spent close to 4 hours there walking around, taking photos, and bargaining for souvenirs.
Other photos from the site:
|Chuc Mool – Sacrificial statue|
|Cenotes where they found children sacrificial remains|