Mexico – Yucatan

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Introduction :
Chichen Itza is a sacred city of the ancient Maya civilization in the midst of a jungle and is currently located in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. It is the 2nd most visited archaelogical sites in Mexico and was rated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and was recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Main attractions in Chichen Itza are Temple of Kulkulcan built during the 12th century, Great Ball Court, the Caracolo Observatory Temple, Platform of Venus, Tzompantli Skull Rack and the Temple of Warriors.

serpent-skin pyramid known as the Temple of KulKulcan
The main attraction in Chichen Itza, the serpent-skin pyramid known as the Temple of KulKulcan
Image attribution to Grandvelas Rivier Amaya @ Flickr

The El Caracol Observatory Temple
The El Caracol Observatory Temple
Image attribution to Anahon @ Flickr

Tzompantli Skull Platform
Tzompantli Skull Platform, a Toltec structure found in the Maya site
Image attribution to Joel @ Flickr

History :
The Mayans built and inhabited the Chichen Itza around 400 AD but it was abandoned and returned to several times before the area were conquered by the Toltecs around 1000 AD. The Toltecs introduced the practice of human sacrifice and used the labour of the Mayans to rebuild the city as a religious centre. In short, the Chichen Itza was not entirely the work of the Mayans as it has been abandoned and resettled over few centuries, however the Mayans and Toltecs had the most significant influence in the architectures of this ancient site.

Temple of Warriors referring to the Jaguars
Temple of Warriors referring to the Jaguars
Image attribution to Diorama Sky @ Flickr

Interior of the great ball court
Interior of the Great Ball Court
Image attribution to Exfordy @ Flickr

Platform of Venus
Platform of Venus
Image attribution to Vesito @ Flickr

Getting there :
The nearest international airport to Chichen Itza is the Merida International Airport (MID) which is approximately 116km away from the site and the Cancun International Airport at 187km (CUN). This is usually followed by a bus trip to the site itself. Driving is not advisable due to the high toll fees along the highway.

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