Chichen Itza literally means 'At the mouth of the well of Itza'. Chichen Itza is located in Yucatan Peninsula which is now the present day Mexico. Chichen Itza is an archaeological site built by the Maya civilization. Most of the architectural buildings and complexes were burnt out.
Chichen Itza rose to prominence by becoming a major political capital. The ascent of Chichen Itza coincided with the decline of southern Maya lowlands like Tikal. Chichen Itza was not ruled by a single party or individual instead Chichen Itza was governed by a multiple system which ruled through a council.
Chichen Itza was able to procure goods which were locally unavailable through Chichen Itza trade route of Isla Cerritos which was a port.
The Chichen Itza has many stone buildings, which are preserved. These stone buildings were used as markets, baths, palaces, temples. The emple of Kukulcan is located in the center of Chichen. The temple is in the form of a pyramid with ground terraces and steps on 4 sides leading to the top. During spring and fall equinox, the rising and setting of the sun casts a shadow in the form of a serpent.
The Mesoamerican cultures built larger pyramids atop older ones. When an excavation was ordered another temple was found below the current one. Inside the temple was a Chac mool statue with a throne in the shape of jaguar painted red and spots made of jade. The Mexican government opened it up for tourists but closed the throne room later on.
The Chichen Itza is Temple of Warriors complex consists of rows of carved columns depicting warriors and Chichen Itza is a stepped pyramid temple. At the top of the stairs leading to the entrance of the temple is a chac Mool. Near the warriors there is a large plaza called the 'the great market'.
The Great Ball Court which is to the north-west of Castillo. Great Ball Court measures 545 by 232 ft the walls are 12 ft high with interwining serpents carved on it. At one end of the Great Ball Temple, there is a temple of the Bearded Man. There are a couple of Jaguar temples in the Great Ball Court.
The El Caracol or snail is a round building on a square platform. El Caracol was an observatory to view the vernal equinox and other astronomical observations. The Mayas would view the calendar by watching the reflection of the stars in the water cups kept around the edge of the large rock.
The caves of Balankanche are a network of sacred caves. Ancient pottery and idols are seen in the caves of balankanche.
In 1894 the US consul explored the Chichen Itza and recovered gold, jade, weapons, maya cloth all of which he shipped to the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. In 1913, an extensive archaeological excavation were undertaken where El Castillo, The great Ball Court, Temple of Warriors were excavated and restored.
UNESCO has declared Chichen Itza as World Heritage site. Chichen Itza is the second largest visited archaeological site in Mexico. Visitors can walk around the sites but can no longer climb them or go inside the chambers as the INAH is closing all the monuments due to mishaps.
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