Why You Need To Visit Chichen Itza This Summer

When a New York lawyer rediscovered Chichen Itza in 1842, he found a massive city that had been consumed by the jungle. After the Carnegie Institute dedicated 20 years to the city’s preservation, we now have the ability to visit this incredible ancient metropolis.

Construction on Chichen Itza began in the 400s by the Itza people (meaning water magicians after their ability to find water in underground cenotes). The Toltec people arrived in the late 900s and introduced a new cultural system that blended with the Itza people. Chichen Itza as we know it was born.

The focal point of the city is the massive pyramid. On the spring equinox, the sun hits the pyramid perfectly and creates the illusion of a snake running alongside the stone structure - an indication of the Maya’s relationship with astronomy. Further, the pyramid has four side with 91 steps, plus one giant step on top (365 days).

The acoustics developed by the Mayan people was incredible - stick with me on this one. The quetzal bird was sacred to the Mayan people. The ruler would use its feathers in his headdress. When one person claps in front of the pyramid’s staircase, it sends the sound up the stairs and into the great room and it exits as the chirp of the quetzal bird. Now, imagine 50,000 people standing in the main square and clapping in anticipation of the ruler: 50,000 quetzal bird-chirps echoed through the city, followed by the appearance of the ruler with a quetzal bird headdress. It would’ve been like a modern-day rock concert.

And that’s just the pyramid. Take a stroll to the nearby ball court that rivals the size of modern soccer fields. Citizens and nobles would watch these intense games that sometimes ended with the loser’s beheading.

Walk to the observatory and see how Mayan scientists were able to discover so many intricacies about the world centuries before Europeans. Visit the massive cenote pits, where fresh water fueled the empire and provided avenues for human sacrifice.

Most of all, explore the area and appreciate the incredible culture that once thrived in the Yucatan jungle. Unfortunately, when the Spanish conquistadors invaded, they burned most of the Mayan books (because they weren’t the Bible), so everything we’re learning about this culture comes from archaeology and continuous excavation. Visit this city and appreciate its rich history so that it can live on and grow.


Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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