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Chichen Itza Ruins

Chichen Itza is located in the state of Yucatan. It is about 98 miles from Cancun, which is approximately a two and a half hour drive. Chichen Itza is considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. It was extablished towards the end of the Early Classic period, about 600 AD. The site today contains many buildings made of stone that have been restored.     

These buildings are grouped by low walls. Great North Platform includes the El Castillo, Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court. The Ossario Group includes the pyramid Ossario as well as the Temple of Xtoloc. The last group called the Central Group includes the Caracol, Las Monjas, and Akab Dzib. Below are descriptions of some of the more famous ruins at Chichen Itza.

 El Castillo   

El Castillo, meaning the castle, lies in the center of Chichen Itza. It is a pyramid with stairways on all four sides that leads to the top of the temple. A unique event takes place at this building during the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the building casts a shadow in the shape of a serpent along the west side of the north staircase. If you stand at the top of the building and speak at a normal voice those below can hear you for quite some distance. El Castillo is a very mysterious building and the trek up to the top is not an easy one, but is well worth the work.


Great Ball Court   

This is about a 540 ft x 220 ft area that archaeologists have identified as a location where Mesoamerican ballgame was played. On the sides of the field there are imposing walls that are approximately 39 ft high and in the middle at the top there are rings that are carved out of stone and where used as part of the ballgame. It is said that if you stand in one of the spectator boxes on one side and whisper, then those on the opposite side of the court can hear what you said.  There have been many attempts to understand this acoustic phenomenon, but to this day, none have found the secret.


Temple of the Warriors   

Standing just to the east of El Castillio is one of the most impressive structures of Chichen Itza.  The Temple of Warriors has not been fully restored, because the jungle has reclaimed part of the hundreds of columns located around the temple. On the 200 columns are carved low reliefs of toltec warriors. The size of this building indicates that it was used for large gatherings. The temple of Warriors could quite possibly be the most mysterious part of the Chichen Itza Ruins.



Smaller than El Castillo, but equally impressive is the Ossario pyramid. There are four staircases leading to the top, where the temple is held. In the early 1800’s the temple at the top of the pyramid was excavated by a man named Edward H Thompson. When they entered the interior of the temple, they found jade beads, pottery, ancient mayan artifacts, and human bones. Erie as this may be, archeologists do not believe they were the bones of the priests, but don’t deny that they may be the bones of human sacrifices.

El Caracol 

This unique structure is thought to be one of the earliest observatories. As can be seen from the top, it looks much like the observatories of today. Thought to be a place of early observation the dome like structure on top enabled the people to rise above the dense canopy of the jungle to study the cosmos. Inside is a large spiral staircase that leads to the top of the observatory, and for this reason, the observatory has been named El Coracol or “the snail” in spanish.


La Iglesia 

Directly translated, this structure is called “The Church”.  Like “The Observatory”, this building was used to study things beyond this world. Being the most popular building to be depicted in early drawings by explorers, this has become the icon of Chichen Itza. It is possible that the name of La Iglesia came only because it was the closest building to the nunnery where high nobility and religious leaders lived.

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Map of Chichen Itza Ruins

Map of Chichen Itza

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