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Top Mexico

Chichén Itzá

Tel Code: 985

Altitude 29m, 98 ft

Pop: 4,000 (Town of Piste)

Postal Code: 97751

Archeological Zone Entrance Fee: MX$111/US$11 (includes Sound and Light show)

On a crowded afternoon at Chichén Itzá it may feel as if Cancun’s three million annual visitors stepped off the tour bus at the same time you did, but really, they did not. Located just a three-hour, air-conditioned bus ride from the resort’s beaches, the reconstructed Mayan city of Chichén Itzá is the Yucatan Peninsula’s top travel destination after Cancun. And despite the buses, the crowds and the trinket sellers, there’s a reason tourists and Mayan purists continue to make the trek to Chichén Itzá: it is simply spectacular, like no other place in Mexico, or for that matter, in the world.

That rare beast, Chichén Itzá is both a critical and popular hit. The Mayan city was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1988, possessing a “cultural and natural heritage having outstanding universal value.” In 2007, after 7 years of furious campaigning and 100 million internet votes, Chichén Itzá was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. As New7Wonders Foundation President Bernard Weber put it, “The people have spoken, history was made.” And, so, the people continue to come – school children, couples, backpackers and retirees, Mexican grandmothers with tiny ones clutching their hands, day trippers clad in unnecessary jungle cargo pants. For most, this may be the one time in their lives they encounter an ancient civilization, and they are changed by the experience.Climbing El Castillo was halted in 2006 after an 80-year old woman fell to her death, ending a decades-long rite of passage for visitors. For those lucky enough to have done it before the ban, few will ever forget the thrill of reaching the top, gazing out across the Great Plaza to the Temple of the Warriors as only select ancient priests (and sacrificial victims) were ever allowed to do.


Other places nearby Chichén Itzá: Progreso, Playa del Carmen, San Felipe, Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Mahahual, Valladolid, Cancún, Campeche and Santa Elena.

By George Nunes
Mayan archeology and culture are my passion and I've visited over 20 sites so far. My career path has encompassed being a professional dancer and...
29 Jul 2011

Adventure Mexico Tours
Today, Yucatan Tours display a land of beaches and surf, fun and adventure for all tastes and budgets.

Things to do in Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá Ruins

Chichén Itzá fascinates historians and archeologists as a city with a long, complicated development, displaying in its construction elements of both Mayan and Toltec styles. This fusion has led ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Las Monjas

No, nuns did not live in this building – it received that name because the Spanish thought it looked like a convent. Probably a residential palace, the impressive building dates from 880 AD. On the ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

The Observatory or El Caracol

El Caracol is a large platform surmounted by a round tower, remarkably similar to today’s observatories. It received its nickname because the building’s interior resembles the chambered shell of ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Temple of the Thousand Columns

In contrast to the typical small rooms formed by the Mayan arch, the Temple of the Thousand Columns was a vast, covered space. Whether a market or meeting hall, the quadrangle would have been a ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Temple of the Warriors

With individualistic portraits of warriors carved on its 200 columns, this temple represents the peak of Mayan-Toltec style. At the top of the staircase is found Chichén Itzá’s iconic image, the ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Sacred Cenote

Chichén Itzá was named the “mouth of the well of the Itzaes,” after the Sacred Cenote. It was the home of the rain god Chac and an entrance into the underworld. The sinkhole is 60 meters across ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Tzompantli (Wall of Skulls), Temple of the Jaguars, Platform of the Eagles, Temple of Venus

In the Great Plaza are found four unique structures, each with its own purpose: The Temple of Venus was likely the podium for rites, ceremonies or dances. Tribute was paid to fierce warriors in the ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Ball Court

The Chichén Itzá ball court, at 6.5 meters long by 30 meters wide, is the largest of more than 1,300 Mesoamerican ball courts, where a ritualized game of ballgame was played. The bloody practice of ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

El Castillo

The Temple of Kukulkan, nicknamed El Castillo or “The Castle,” is instantly recognized around the world and has become the unofficial image of the Yucatan and Mayan Mexico. Dedicated to the ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Ik Kil Parque Ecoarqueológico

Open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, the restaurant, park and cenote of Ik Kil provide a verdant escape from the direct sun of Chichén Itzá, but not from the busloads of tourists. To ...
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
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