Chichen Itza Mexico was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tolland referred to in later Mesoamerican literature. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site.
It is one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. It was granted World Heritage Site status in 1988 by UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
History of Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza Mexico was a center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya for over 1,000 years. The Sacred Cenote (a large natural well or limestone sink hole) was holy to the ancient Rain God “Chac”.
About 987 the ruler of the Toltec people of central Mexico came here, and with his Maya allies made Chichen Itza the most powerful city in the Yucatan. The ruler called himself “Kukulcan”, the name of the Mesoamerican Feathered Serpent deity (also known as “Quetzalcoatl”) and Chichen Itza became a center for worship of that god as well. More buildings were built here in a mixture of Maya and Toltec styles.
About 1221 the Maya revolted against the rulers of Chichen Itza. The city was not abandoned, but as political power shifted elsewhere it declined and no major new buildings were constructed. The reasons for the final abandonment of the city are unknown, but Spanish documents show that the city was already abandoned on their arrival.
The structures of Chichen Itza were overgrown with jungle and slowly decayed until major archaeological projects began in the 1920s. Since then, more of the ancient structures have been cleared and restored and more and more tourists come to visit.
Interesting Facts About Chichen Itza Mexico
1. Chichen Itza is classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and in 1988 was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. The word “Chichen Itza” is derived from a Mayan name which means, “on the mouth of the well of Itza.” It is also called “El Castillo” which means “the castle” in Spanish.
3. The Chichen Itza Mexico was discovered in the year 514 A.D. by the priest Lakin Chan who was also called Itzamna. It was re-discovered by an American explorer John L. Stephens in 1841.
4. The design and layout of Chichen Itza were clearly well planned and builders constructed temples and pyramids in sets of clusters.
5. Chichen Itza is a huge area and is composed of various structures such as the Pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars or The Temple of Thousand Warriors, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners, is truly a collection of great architecture.
6. Located on the north side of the Kukulkan Pyramid is a platform dedicated to the planet Venus. The Mayans were devoted astronomers and the movements of Venus held special meaning to them, with it influencing the architecture of the ancient Mayan city Uxmal.
7. The city had the most diverse population in any Maya population with around 50,000 people. The people were very skilled craftsmen, including sculptors, weavers, jewelers, and potters.
8. Carrying such a rich history, the Chichen Itza is the 2nd most visited tourist spot in Mexico with over 1.2 million visitors every year.