Travel back in time by exploring a sprawling Mayan city that dates back over 1,000 years. This spectacular UNESCO site is one of Mexico’s most famous treasures.
Visit one of Mexico’s biggest and best-known Mayan ruins, Chichén Itzá. Wander among ancient temples and pyramids, many of them incredibly well preserved, and imagine the Mayan people who called this area home over 1,000 years ago. Discover the rich religious and astronomical significance of the site’s towering structures. Get insight into the fascinating, and often brutal, nature of everyday life in Mayan society.
See the astonishing El Castillo pyramid, the most famous landmark in Chichén Itzá. This imposing pyramid is built from 365 steps which represent the 365 days of the solar year. Try to spot the wealth of other astral symbols embedded in the structure, too. For example, the pyramid includes 52 panels, representing the 52 years in a single cycle of the Mayan calendar. Enter the pyramid to discover the temple contained within.
El Castillo is just one of the overwhelming number of sacred sites here. Marvel at the many pillars of the nearby Court of a Thousand Columns, attached to the Temple of the Warriors. Visit El Caracol, with its impressive winding staircase, which once served as an observatory. And see numerous temples featuring captivating stone reliefs that have given them poetic names. These include the Temple of the Bearded Man and the Temple of the Jaguars.
A famous Mayan tradition is the ball game. Visit the Grand Ball Court to see one of the largest pitches where the Mayan’s elaborate ball games were played for the entertainment of massive crowds. It is believed losing the game may have had bloody consequences. Look for the relief that depicts the beheading of one of the players.
Chichén Itzá is located a little under 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Cancún. Stay in the scenic town of Valladolid to be closer by. Pay the entrance fee and explore at your own pace, or book a guided tour to be led by an expert guide.