51 Fun facts about Chichen Itza Mexico: Biggest Guide Ever!

Last Updated on September 18, 2023 by asoulwindow

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Chichen Itza Facts and History

What are the facts about Chichen Itza? Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in what is now Mexico. Chichen Itza was likely one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans, referred to in later Mesoamerican literature.

Chichen Itza was occupied for more than 600 years, from about 600 to 1200 C.E. It was populated during the Late Classic and Early Post-Classic Maya periods.

From what archaeologists can tell, it became one of the biggest Maya cities with over 50,000 people living there during its peak between the 9th and 10th centuries. With this comprehensive blog, I am unlocking the secrets of the mysterious ruins of Chichen Itza. This is the most exhaustive blog on Chichen Itza facts ever. Here is all you wanted to know about the interesting facts of Chichen Itza.

Where is Chichen Itza located?

Chichen Itza is located in the northern center of the Yucatán state in Mexico, about 75 miles west of Caribbean Sea coast city of Cancún, and 120 miles east of Merida, the capital of Yucatán. The ancient city is situated roughly midway between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

The ancient Maya built it among a landscape filled with sinkholes and cenotes, which were sacred to them. Being between the coasts and cenotes, probably helped it thrive long ago.

How old is Chichen Itza?

When was Chichen Itza constructed? Chichen Itza was inhabited roughly from 600 C.E. to 1200 C.E. The heyday of the city was between 750 and 900 C.E., with construction of its major monuments likely occurring in the 9th century under the rulership of Ce Acatl Topiltzin.

While Maya cities were often built and rebuilt over long periods of time, Chichen Itza’s monumental core appears to represent an essentially single-phase construction project that was initiated in the late 9th century C.E. Smaller scale construction and modifications continued till as late as the 11th century C.E.

Who constructed Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza was constructed by the Maya people. However, there is evidence that groups from central Mexico, either Nahuatl-speaking Toltecs or others from the Gulf Coast region, settled at Chichen Itza in the late 9th century.

There appears to have been an infusion of central Mexican cultural influences into the Maya city, which some scholars believe helped spur a florescence of art, architecture, and technology at Chichen Itza under Mayan rulers who intermarried with the newcomers.

Why was Chichen Itza built?

What was the purpose of building Chichen Itza? Chichen Itza was likely built to be a center of political and economic power for its Maya rulers. Major Mesoamerican cities at this time were seats of dynasties that ruled over surrounding countryside and towns in the region.

As a large Maya city boasting of incredible architecture and technology for its time, Chichen Itza’s monuments and urban plan would have also functioned to impress subjects of the city, intimidate enemies, and appease the Gods believed to control natural events.

The enormous scale of public performance spaces seen in Chichen Itza’s ballcourt, temple-pyramids, and columned arcades indicates the city was also a place for religious rituals, trading and other public gatherings for the Maya people of the region. I am sure you are enjoying reading these unknown facts about Chichen Itza.

My Experience of visiting Chichen Itza

Visiting Chichen Itza offers a window back in time to experience the monumental grandeur of one of the most powerful Maya city-states at its peak in the 9th and 10th centuries C.E.

Walking the ancient avenues past impeccably-aligned temple-pyramids, columned arcades and palace complexes, one gets a vivid sense of the scale and urban planning of this metropolis over 1,000 years ago.

facts about Chichen Itza Mexico. The Thousand Columns Group
Fun facts about Chichen Itza Mexico: The Thousand Columns Group

Of course, the iconic El Castillo pyramid dominates the landscape with its striking, geometric perfection and sculpted serpent balustrades lining the staircases.

I was sure to arrive early in the morning to witness sunlight slowly creeping down the northern staircase of El Castillo to create an undulating snake pattern for the spring and fall equinoxes, one of many astronomical alignments built into the city’s architecture.

Downfall of Chichen Itza

When did Chichen Itza fall? What led to the decline of Chichen Itza? These are some commonly asked questions about Chichen Itza. After reaching its peak between around 750 and 1050 C.E., Chichen Itza started to decline as political power shifted away from the city. There were a number of reasons for its downfall.

Climate change caused droughts that messed up their food supply. Conflict grew with the rising Maya city of Mayapán south of them. And they lost trade partners when other cities collapsed across the Yucatán Peninsula.

By the end of the 1200s, Chichen Itza was mostly abandoned. The once magnificent city became overgrown by jungle. Only some local Maya farmers stuck around living near the ruins. The core monuments and political buildings were just left alone for centuries, untouched by human hands.

It’s crazy to think this huge bustling city became a ghost town in the span of a few hundred years. From a major center of power, it turned into ruins reclaimed by nature. This just goes on to show how civilizations can rise and fall throughout history.

When was Chichen Itza discovered?

Who first discovered Chichen Itza? After the Spanish conquered the Yucatán in the 1500s, some of their early explorers visited and wrote about the ancient Maya ruins, which were still mysterious to Europeans back then.

In 1588, a Spanish priest’s report gave the first detailed description of Chichen Itza’s sacred cenote and a temple there. But it wasn’t until the 1800s that real archaeological interest in the Maya took off. That’s when more formal surveys and excavations of Chichen Itza began.

Some key early work was done in the 1840s by an American diplomat named John Lloyd Stephens and a British artist Frederick Catherwood. They published illustrated accounts of Chichen Itza and other Maya ruins that sparked major public fascination with Mesoamerican history. Their work was a catalyst for serious Maya studies.

More scientific excavation and restoration of Chichen Itza sped up in the 1920s under a Mexican archaeologist named Sylvanus Morley. Rigorous investigation and reconstruction of the site continues today, nearly 200 years after those first inquiries.

Generations of archaeologists have worked to uncover Chichen Itza’s history. Our understanding of this ancient city has come a long way since those early Spanish accounts and explorations. But there’s still more to learn!

Interesting facts about Chichen Itza

  • The name “Chichen Itza” means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza” in the Yucatec Maya language, referring to the city’s proximity to the sacred cenote water well.
  • Chichen Itza’s El Castillo pyramid was built with such astronomical precision that during the spring and fall equinoxes, its stairways cast a series of triangular shadows against the northwest balustrade that resemble an undulating serpent body descending the pyramid.
  • The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, measuring 545 feet long by 223 feet wide, is the largest known ball court in Mesoamerica. Games played here may have involved later losers being sacrificed.
  • Chichen Itza’s Temple of the Warriors contains a Chac Mool statue upon which sacrificed human hearts were placed to consecrate the temple. Similar statues occur in the Great Ball Court and El Castillo pyramid at the site.
  • Intricate and eerie stone skulls known as tzompantli were carved into rows lining the tzompantli, or skull platform temple, from which heads of sacrificed people would be mounted on wooden poles.

If you enjoyed the above facts, be sure to read up on these 30 fascinating Mexico Facts.

Nomenclature: Why is Chichen Itza called so?

  • What is the real name of Chichen Itza?
  • What does Chichen Itza mean?
  • Why is it called Chichen Itza?
  • How did Chichen Itza get its name?

Let me answer these frequently asked questions in this detailed blog. Chichen Itza means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza” in the Yucatec Maya language. Chi’en is translated as mouth or edge, and Itza’ means the name of the Maya-Itza tribe that inhabited the area.

The city’s name refers to its proximity to the large sinkhole cenotes in the area, which the Maya considered sacred wells providing access to the underworld after death. The name Chichen Itza indicates the city’s founders likely belonged to the Itza tribe. These are some of the lesser-known facts about Chichen Itza.

Architecture of Chichen Itza

What is the architecture style of Chichén Itzá? The architecture of Chichen Itza displays a fusion of Maya and central Mexican building influences and engineering techniques.

Distinct architectural styles seen at the site include the Puuc style of the initial settlement, the Chenes style of early stone monuments, as well as Toltec-Maya fusion elements seen in later enormous temple platforms, colonnaded halls, and spatial arrangement of monumental buildings around large plazas.

Was Chichen Itza built near sinkholes?

Yes, Chichen Itza was intentionally constructed near natural sinkhole caves called cenotes, which the ancient Maya considered sacred pathways to the underworld and sources of life-giving water.

The city’s name Chichen Itza translates in Yucatec Maya as “at the mouth of the well of the Itza” in reference to the major cenote located near the center of the ancient city. Access to this massive 150-foot-wide cenote likely made Chichen Itza an important pilgrimage site over the centuries.

Which materials is Chichen Itza built up of?

Chichen Itza was constructed primarily of local limestone. Limestone blocks were cut precisely and arranged into structures faced with ornate stonework sculpture.

The buildings were plastered over with lime stucco and painted with elaborate designs in shades of reds, blues, greens and gold representing cosmic imagery, deities, animals and other symbols.

Imported stones such as jade and obsidian were also used for decorative elements. The stone buildings were roofed with wooden beams and thatch.

How was astronomy used in the architecture of Chichen Itza?

Apart from advanced agricultural techniques and brilliant architecture, the Mayas also exceled in hieroglyphic writing and sophisticated calendar systems.

Astronomical alignment of buildings and design elements was an important architectural principle at Chichen Itza. The city’s main temple-pyramid, El Castillo, is oriented to the cardinal directions.

During the spring and fall equinoxes, light and shadow effects on the pyramid’s staircases create the dramatic appearance of a feathered serpent undulating down the structure.

Other buildings align to important solar, lunar and Venus events on the calendar. Observatories used for studying the night sky and predicting agricultural seasons likely existed at the site.

El castillo temple pyramid Chichen Itza Mexico
El castillo temple pyramid Chichen Itza Mexico

Which pyramid has 365 steps?

What is the design of Chichén Itzá? The design and layout of Chichen Itza is very unique. I was surprised to learn that there are 365 steps in the temple which represent all the days of the year.

Since the Mayans were very intelligent, evolved and scientific when it came to astronomy, they built the Pyramid of El Castillo in such a way that it reflected the Mayan astronomical year. It is easy to count 91 steps on each side of the Pyramid of El Castillo. The final step is located on the top of the pyramid. This makes the total count as 365 steps which represents 365 days of the year.

The equinox at Chichén Itzá

The fun facts I am now sharing about Chichén Itzá will blow your mind.During the spring and autumnal equinoxes, an intriguing light and shadow display occurs on the El Castillo pyramid at Chichén Itzá.

On these two days per year, around March 20 and September 22, the afternoon Sun strikes the pyramid’s stairs at just the right angle to create a pattern of triangular shadows that appears like an undulating serpent slithering down the northern staircase.

This equinox phenomenon occurs because El Castillo was designed with precision solar alignments, and the serpent balustrades encasing the staircases were intentionally placed to cast the snake-like shadows. The Pyramid of El Castillo was built in such a way that it marks the equinoxes, i.e., the two days of the year when there are equal amounts of day and night.

Lasting about 3 hours, the effect would have been seen as a manifestation of the feathered serpent god Kukulkan by ancient Maya observers.

Thousands of visitors now flock to Chichen Itza during the equinoxes to witness this intriguing celestial event. Were you aware of this unique fact about Chichen Itza?

Was Chichen Itza used as an observatory?

While no dedicated observatory building has been confirmed, Chichen Itza does feature important astronomical alignments in its architecture suggesting the city was used to observe, record, and predict celestial events.

The city plan forms an enormous calendar dial where solstices, equinoxes, and other events could be marked by the Sun’s light and shadow interactions with buildings and stone markers.

Directional orientations, restricted lines of site and window or doorway placements also facilitated observation of astronomical events like solstices and the transit of Venus.

Tracking the heavens enabled the Maya to create a complex calendar system and predict seasonal changes for agricultural cycles.

Deities of Chichen Itza

Who is the God of Chichen Itza? Chichen Itza’s temples and artwork depict important Maya deities that were venerated by the city’s inhabitants:

  • Kukulkan – The feathered serpent god associated with wind, the calendar, agriculture, and the rule of the city. El Castillo is the temple dedicated to Kukulkan.
  • Chac – The Maya rain and lightning god, prominent sculptures of Chac appear in the Great Ball Court and Temple of the Warriors.
  • The Chacs – Four protective deities associated with the cardinal directions and the colors red, white, black and yellow.
  • Xipe Totec – The central Mexican “Flayed One” God of fertility, vegetation, disease, and the cycle of seasons. Sculptures of Xipe Totec are found on the Platform of Venus and in the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza.
  • Quetzalcoatl – The feathered serpent deity prominent in central Mexican religion becomes merged with Kukulkan at Chichen Itza.

Mysterious Sounds of Chichen Itza

When a hand clap is made directed at the staircase of El Castillo temple, a curious chirping echo can be heard in response. This acoustic effect has led to speculation that the pyramid was intentionally designed to mimic the cry of the quetzal bird sacred to the Maya deity Kukulkan.

Researchers have found the echo results from the staircase’s stone edges diffracting sound waves from the hand clap. This is a well-known fact about Chichen Itza.

The effect resonates at a frequency humans perceive as a short chirp, allowing the pyramid acoustics to “talk back”. This intriguing feature may have astounded ancient Maya who considered it a sign of Kukulkan’s presence.

Why do people clap at Chichen Itza?

Visitors clap their hands while standing at the base of Chichen Itza’s monumental El Castillo pyramid in order to produce a curious chirping echo effect from the pyramid’s stone staircase edges. Thus is one of the best Chichen Itza fun facts for kids.

Researchers have found these acoustics result from the diffraction of sound waves by the meticulously designed staircases. This creates an echo that resonates at a frequency the human ear perceives as the cry of a Quetzal bird, sacred to the Maya.

Ancient Maya likely interpreted this phenomenon as the “voice” of the deity Kukulkan speaking from his pyramid temple. Today, thousands of tourists clap to experience this remnant of El Castillo’s acoustic mysteries. I tried it too.

Gruesome death practices of Chichen Itza

What was Chichen Itza used for? Religious human sacrifices took place frequently at Chichen Itza, particularly by extracting the hearts of victims. The sacrificed were also decapitated and their heads displayed on skull racks known as tzompantli, the largest of which had over 200 carved stone skulls. Did you know about these Unbelievable facts about Chichen Itza?

Who was sacrificed at Chichen Itza?

Evidence indicates losers of the Great Ball Game were sometimes killed as sacrifices. Burials of children and infants near temples suggest they may have been offered to the gods.

Being sacrificed or contributing their children to rituals was likely seen as an honor that nourished the cosmic order. The public spectacle of these bloody offerings proved the power of the Maya rulers and priests.

Was Chichen Itza used for sacrifices?

Yes, extensive archaeological evidence exists indicating religious human sacrifices were conducted frequently at Chichen Itza. Victims had their hearts extracted with a knife to be burned as offerings, were decapitated, and sometimes had their skulls displayed and mounted on wooden poles in rows on stone skull racks known as tzompantli.

Sacrifices took place in relation to major calendar events, funerals of nobility, temple consecrations, droughts or wars when divine favors were sought. Being sacrificed was likely seen as an honor.

The public spectacle of these bloody offerings proved the power of the Maya rulers and priests to influence events by communicating with their gods.

Is Chichen Itza a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Yes, the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, one of the first sites in Mexico to receive this honor.

UNESCO recognized Chichen Itza as it contains spectacular examples of Maya-Toltec architecture and artistry that demonstrate outstanding technical and artistic achievements of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures.

Chichen Itza’s well-preserved temples, pyramids, columned arcades and statuary provide invaluable insight into the shared spiritual beliefs, rituals and power structures that unified Maya cities.

Did you know: Chichen Itza is a highlight on any Mexican trip. Be sure to include a visit to the iconic ruins in your Yucatan Travel Itinerary.

Can I climb El Castillo, the temple of Kukulkan?

The answer is No. Unfortunately, climbing El Castillo pyramid is prohibited because climbing the temple stairs causes accelerated erosion of the stone structure.

Also, a woman tourist died from an accidental fall in the year 2006, prompting Mexican authorities to ban ascents to preserve the pyramid and ensure public safety.

To experience views from atop El Castillo, visitors can appreciate panoramic photographs taken from the top step that are on display nearby.

While ascending the iconic monument is enticing, responsible heritage preservation and admiring the temple from outside only ensures future generations can also appreciate Chichen Itza.

Who is the woman that climbed Chichen Itza? A Mexican lady illegally climbed the stairs and faced major backlash and a hefty fine.

El castillo temple pyramid Chichen Itza Mexico
El castillo temple pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico

Can you climb Chichen Itza?

No. It is not permitted for visitors to climb the structures and temples of Chichen Itza in order to preserve the archaeological integrity of the ruins. Climbing the monuments accelerates erosion of the porous limestone surfaces.

Did someone fall on Chichen Itza? Authorities banned climbing El Castillo pyramid after a woman tragically died in a fall in 2006. Some stairways are also dangerously steep and unstable.

While ascending the grand temples is tempting, restraining from climbing helps conserve the millennium-old structures so future generations can admire Chichen Itza’s cultural legacy responsibly and safely.

Why can’t you climb Chichen Itza anymore?

INAH or Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History is the authority which protects the five kilometres core area of Chichen Itza. Protected under the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological Artistic and Historic Zones, it is strictly prohibited to climb Chichen Itza. However, that was not the case always. Until recently, tourists were allowed to climb Chichen Itza.

Thanks to the steep steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkan, few accidental deaths triggered the closing down the access to the stairs. Otherwise, it was common to climb up the stairs till the year 2008.  Another benefit of now allowing tourist to enter the chambers or climbing the Chichen Itza is the fact that it protects the monument from erosion due to touch.

Some major advantage of not allowing to climb Chichen Itza are

  • Prevention of erosion
  • Prevention of accidents
  • A clear view of the monuments.

Is Chichen Itza one of the New Seven Wonders of the World?

Yes, Chichen Itza was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in the year 200.

Why is Chichen Itza a Wonder of the World? Chichen Itza has been designated as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World thanks to its artistic and architectural significance as a remnant of the advanced Maya civilization.

What are the complexes of Chichen Itza?

The main complexes at Chichen Itza include the Central, Monjas, El Caracol, Las Monjas, and Chichen Viejo groups of interconnected buildings and temples.

What is so special about Chichen Itza?

  • What makes Chichen Itza so special?
  • Why is Chichen Itza so famous?
  • Why is Chichen Itza important?

I am sure you also have the above questions on your mind. Well, the answer is pretty simple.

Chichen Itza is renowned for its sophisticated architecture, astronomy-based design, and intricate stone carvings representing the Maya culture that dominated Mesoamerica from 250-900 AD.

What is Chichen Itza made of?

Chichen Itza’s structures were made primarily of locally-quarried limestone blocks then faced with stone carvings and decorated with murals.

How many people visit Chichen Itza?

Over 2.5 million tourists visit the ruins of Chichen Itza annually, making it one of Mexico’s most popular archaeological sites.

What is the mystery of tunnels inside the temple of Kukulcan?

What is the mystery of Chichen Itza? The purpose of tunnels inside El Castillo are unknown but may have been for construction access, symbolic pilgrimage routes or to simply amplify sounds.

What is the Importance of Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza was a major site, the discovery of which provided the archaeologists and historian several valuable findings and a better understanding of the ancient Mayan lifestyle. This is why Chichen Itza remains the most important Mayan site ever. The excavations in and around Chichen Itza gave major insights about the Maya civilisation.

Is Chichen Itza entirely a Mayan ruin?

Having explored many places, I can vouch for the fact that temples of Chichen Itza are very unusual and different from the temple architecture of India, Sri Lanka or South East Asia. Located in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Chichen Itza was not entirely a Mayan ruin.The pre-Hispanic city of Chichen-Itza has many secrets up its sleeves. The Maya as well as the Toltec influences on the region can be easily seen on the ruins of the mysterious Chichen Itza.

While the region had Mayan influence in the initial stage, eventually it fell into the hands of the Toltec regime. The Mayan architectural style with later additions from central Mexico construction techniques make it obvious that the Chichen Itza ruins are not entirely Mayan. I thought it was high time that I broke this myth which I why I wrote this detailed blog on Chichen Itza facts.

Today, the ruins of Chichen-Itza stand as a rare specimen of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán. Some of such noteworthy buildings are the pyramid of Kukulkan, Warriors’ Temple, El Castillo and El Caracol which is a circular observatory. I am sure you didn’t know these lesser-known facts about Chichen Itza!

The Temple of the Warriors Chichen Itza Mexico
The Temple of the Warriors Chichen Itza in Mexico

Why was Chichen Itza so powerful?

As one of the major centres of the Mayan culture, Chichen Itza remained powerful for a long period of time. Between 600 C.E. and 1200 C.E., Chichen Itza continued to be a major seat of government, religion, Mayan culture, commerce and trade. What also makes Chichen Itza so powerful is the fact that it was a major pilgrimage site of Mayans.

The sacred city that Chichen Itza was, it remained a major place of worship and a venue to perform traditional Mayan rituals. This explains why some of the most astounding discoveries of the Mayan civilisation have been made at Chichen Itza. You can find some of the grandest buildings and ruins at Chechen Itza, which speaks volumes of its days of glory.

These are some of the major factors that made Chichen Itza so powerful and important for centuries. Keep reading this exhaustive guide as I am sharing more interesting trivia about Chichen Itza here.

When was Chichen Itza at its most powerful?

Did you know that Chichén Itzá remained a very important centre in the Northern Maya Lowlands between the Late Classic era (600 C.E. to 900 C.E.) and the Terminal Classic period (800 C.E. to 900 C.E.)? In fact, Chichén Itzá continued to remain powerful even during the early part of the Postclassic period which corresponds to 900 C.E. to 1200 C.E. Chichén Itzá indeed enjoyed prosperity and fame for a long time before the Maya people started to abandoned the famous Mayan cities.

How did Chichen Itza end mysteriously?

The earliest Maya settlements are recorded from 2,000 B.C. onwards. They inhabited what is now south of Mexico and northern Central America. It is commonly knowledge that the Mayan civilisation abruptly ended. For unknown reasons, the Mayans abandoned their main cities around 900 C.E. Enveloped by jungle, many of the Mayan ruins are discovered even now. Most of the Mayan ruins were discovered in the 19th centuries.

The classic era of the Maya civilisation began in 250 C.E. This is when the population was at its peak and the Mayas constructed several temples, palaces and prosperous cities. But no good things ever lasted forever. Approximately around 900 C.E., the Mayas started to abandon all the major cities which formed their now famous civilisation. Chichen Itza must have been abandoned similarly.

These mysterious events were commonplace in southern lowlands region of what is now northern part of Guatemala in Central America. Similar abandoning of cities occurred in present day Honduras, Belize and Mexico. This marked the end of the Classic Period. It reminds me of stories of ancient civilisations of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa which flourished thousands of years ago in present day India.

Why did Mayan people abandon their cities?

So, what could have led the Mayas to abandon their flourishing cities? Why the Maya people abandoned their cities? These are some of the most commonly asked questions. This is still shrouded in mystery. Though some historians, archaeologists and scholars have given several theories based on their decades of deep study and research.

It was not as if the local people abandoned the villages and cities overnight like the residents of Kuldhara in Rajasthan. In reality, the collapse of Maya cities happened over the years. Also, just to make things clear, I must tell you that not all Mayan cities were abandoned at once. In fact, Mayan cities were abandoned one after another between approximately late 8th century C.E. and 925 C.E.

One of these factors or a combination of these could have led to the downfall of the Mayan civilisation:

  • Overpopulation
  • Wars and invasions
  • A shift in the traditional trade routes
  • Severe droughts extended for a long time.
  • Environmental degradation and its adverse impact

Soul Window Trivia

Which was the last independent Mayan city? The Spanish conquistadores arrived in this part of the world in the early 1500s. It didn’t take long to wipe out the last remaining Mayan cities. It was in the year 1697, when Nojpeten, the last independent Mayan city was conquered by the Spanish troops. Nojpeten is located in what is now Guatemala. Did you know about this interesting fact?  

What is the tallest building in Chichen Itza?

At a whooping 98 feet in height, El Castillo, the ancient pyramid, is the undisputed tallest structure in Chichen Itza. This height also includes the height of temple at the top. Chichen Itza is full of interesting facts, much of it you will find in this detailed blog.

How tall is El Castillo? What is the height of El Castillo?

Below are the dimensions of El Castillo:

  • Total height of El Castillo with temple is 98 feet or 30 metres.
  • The square base of El Castillo measures 181 ft or 55.3 metres.
  • Height of El Castillo without the temple is 79 feet or 24 metres.
  • Height of additional temple at the top of pyramid is 20 feet or 6 metres.

What are the main clusters of Chichen Itza?

What are the different parts of the Chichen Itza? Chichen Itza contains many intact structures and monuments such as the iconic El Castillo pyramid, the Great Ballcourt, Temple of Warriors, Platform of Venus, Sacred Cenote, and Columned Arcade.

What structure can be found at Chichén Itzá and what was their purpose? Below are some of the other buildings spread across Chichen Itza complex, the large pre-Columbian city which was built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period. The below mentioned structures were built over the years though.

  • The Church
  • Tzompantli
  • The Ossuary
  • The Akab Dzib
  • The Ball Game
  • The Steam Bath
  • The Nun’s House
  • The South Group
  • The sacred cenote
  • The Market Place
  • The Venus platform
  • Chichén Itzá Pyramid
  • El caracol Chichen Itza
  • The House of the Deer
  • Temple of the Warriors
  • The Thousand Columns Group
  • The East Annex of the Nunnery
  • The Chichanchob or Red House
  • The platform of the eagles and jaguars
The Nun’s House at Chichen Itza, Mexico
·        The Nun’s House at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Is Chichen Itza fully excavated?

No, much of the ruins around the main site of Chichen Itza is yet to be unearthed. Not many people are aware of the fact that the actual ruins of the city extend over as much as a whooping 25 kilometres. Did you know about this lesser-known fact? Even today, there are several unexcavated ruins around Chichen Itza waiting to be discovered.

Many of these are not even protected. This is why, individual landowners and village cooperatives carry agricultural practises on such lands. This, I hope will change with time. God alone knows what new discoveries the archaeologists will make when these parts are unearthed.

Is Chichén Itzá one of the largest Mayan cities ever constructed?

Yes, Chichén Itzá indeed is one of the largest Mayan cities which was ever built. One of the largest Mesoamerican cities which was ever constructed by the Maya people, Chichen Itza is the top place to see in Mexico.

It is a well-established fact that Chichen Itza remains one of the largest and most significant archaeological sites from the pre-Columbian Maya civilization which has been discovered so far. No wonder, it was a very important centre for the ancient Maya! The bottom line is thatChichén Itzáisone of the largest Mayan cities which have been discovered so far.

What is the mystery of feathered snake on the top of the pyramid of Chichen Itza?

The feathered serpent god who is called as Quetzalcoatl in central Mexico, is a prominent aspect of the ancient Mayan culture. This deity was also worshipped by the Aztecs as well as other central Mexican cultures of the Postclassic period. Let me talk about the Serpent Shadow of Chichén Itzá in detail here. The Descent of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza During the Spring Equinox is very popular with history buffs, local people and tourists alike.

The ‘Descent of Kukulcán,’ which is also called as the feathered serpent is a major feature of El Castillo which was constructed somewhere between 900 and 1,200 years ago. Every year during the spring and fall equinoxes, this unique phenomenon takes place. This is a symbol of the ancient god returning to planet earth.

Thousands of tourists and local people head to Chichen Itza on this occasion in order to witness the eerie phenomenon of Serpent of Light and Shadow. The surreal spectacle of the mysterious shadow of a serpent rippling down the stone pyramid is a sight to behold. This phenomenon takes place as the Sun starts to set in the West and the shadows start to lengthen.

The unusual spectacle of a gigantic snake slithering down towards the sacred cenote is not to be missed! The snake is a symbol of Kukulcan who was a great leader and ruler of Chichen Itza.  Kukulcan is associated with the above-mentioned Quetzalcoatl. Did you know these interesting facts about Chichen Itza?

El castillo temple pyramid Chichen Itza Mexico
El castillo temple pyramid. Chichen Itza in Mexico

How many pyramids are inside Chichen Itza?

Let me share some more interesting facts about Chichen Itza with you. Are there any other smaller pyramids in Chichen Itza? Not many people are aware of the fact that two smaller pyramids are located inside the main pyramid of Chichen Itza. Think of the Russian nesting doll. After a deep study, expert archaeologists have concluded that it could have been the original structure built at the pyramid of Kukulkan.

This discovery can throw light on the first-period inhabitants of Chichen Itza. However, not much is known because the mysterious structure remains unexcavated to this date. It is quite possible that it turns out to be the oldest buildings in the Chichen Itza complex. So, how many of these interesting facts about Chichen Itza did you know?

What is inside the pyramid of Chichen Itza?

What’s hidden inside the ancient Maya pyramids of Chichén Itzá? In the ancient days, the Maya people used to keep several treasures in their pyramids such as a jaguar throne and jade masks. As per a report by UNAM or National Autonomous University of Mexico, a 10 metres tall structure covering a cenote and an altar is found inside the Pyramid at Chichén Itzá. These are some of the most awesome facts about Chichen Itza.

A smaller identical pyramid which stays hidden inside El Castillo, is home to an altar which an idol of red jaguar with turquoise mosaics. These pyramidal structures were perhaps a means through which the Mayan people communicated with their deities.

What does the Jaguar represent in Chichen Itza?

What does the Jaguar represent in Chichen Itza? The eagles and jaguars which are commonly seen in Mayan ruins are a symbol of the warriors who capture their victims and feed them to the sun god. The figures of jaguars and eagles devouring hearts is commonly seen in Mayan ruins.

Did Chichen Itza have the largest Mayan Ballcourt in the Americas?

The Mixtec, Aztec and Mayans flourished in southern and central Mexico, in the centuries just before the Spanish arrived in these regions in the year 1519 C.E. The ballgame was an integral part of the ancient cultures throughout Mesoamerica, as well as the including the Aztec and Mixtec. In fact, the Spanish people had never seen a rubber ball until they saw one after their arrival here.

Let me share with you some fun facts and trivia. Did you know that as many as 1,500 ballcourts have been discovered so far in Mesoamerica. The largest known such ballcourt is located at Chichén Itzá. The ballcourt in Chichen Itza measures a whooping 98 feet or 30 meters wide and 316 feet or 96.5 meters long. The great ballcourt is definitely one of the top places to see in Chichen Itza.

What are the other temples around Chichen Itza?

What other ruins are near Chichen Itza? Below are some of the lesser-visited Mayan ruins nearby:

  • Uxmal
  • Izamal
  • Ek Balam
  • Dzibilchaltun

Other Mayan Ruins of Mexico

Below is a complete list of Mayan Ruins of Mexico:

  • Cobá Ruins
  • Sayil Ruins
  • Muyil Ruins
  • Kabah Ruins
  • Xlapak Ruins
  • El Rey Ruins
  • Becan Ruins
  • Edzna Ruins
  • El Tajin Ruins
  • Uxmal Ruins
  • Xel-Há Ruins
  • Labaná Ruins
  • El Meco Ruins
  • Chicanna Ruins
  • Palenque Ruins
  • Calakmul Ruins
  • Mayapan Ruins
  • Yaxchilan Ruins
  • Ek Balam Ruins
  • Kohunlich Ruins
  • Bonampak Ruins
  • Chichén Itzá Ruins
  • Yamil Lu’um Ruins
  • Chacchoben Ruins
  • Dzibilchaltún Ruins
  • Tulum Mayan Ruins
  • San Miguelito Ruins
  • Xcaret Mayan Ruins
  • Temple of Ixchel Ruins (Isla Mujeres)
  • San Gervasio Ruins: Best Cozumel Ruins

Famous Mayan Ruins of Central America

Most of the Maya settlers called the lowlands their home. This region is located in the present-day Guatemala in Central America. Some of the major Mayan cities included the below:

  • Tikal
  • Copán
  • Río Bec
  • Dos Pilas
  • Uaxactún
  • Calakmul
  • Palenque
  • Bonampak

Outside of Mexico, you may also want to explore Tikal in Guatemala and the Mayan relics in Copan Ruins of Honduras, both in Central America. There is so much more you can learn about the ancient Maya civilization and Mesoamerican history in Central America.

Chichen Itza facts FAQ

When is Chichen Itza open?

From Sunday to Saturday, Chichen Itza is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

How do I get to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen?

There are many ways to reach Chichen Itza. You can hire a private taxi to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen. Alternatively, if you are a budget traveller, you can opt for the ADO bus from the 5th Avenue.

How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun?

It takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Chichen Itza from Cancun via ADO bus.This is a low-cost way to reach Chichen Itza from Cancun.

What is the easiest way to get to Chichen Itza?

If you want more comfort and money is not an issue, then you can also hire a private taxi from Cancun to Chichen Itza.

Conclusion: Fun facts about Chichén Itzá

I am sure, these exciting Chichen Itza facts educated you about this historical place. All the information you need to plan a great trip to the ancient Maya city ofChichén Itzá is right here. There are so many unusual places to see in and around Chichén Itzá which is also one of the top places to visit in Mexico. I have shared several fun trivia and unusual facts about Chichén Itzá in this blog which you will not find in the old school traditional guide books and mainstream media.

I believe that before embarking upon a trip, it is important to read up quick facts about the place. This is why I decided to write this information packed detailed fact file on Chichén Itzá. You will find all the information on Chichén Itzá under one page here. These are the facts you probably don’t know about Chichen Itza.

The view from my Soul Window is mystical!

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