The ruins of Chichén Itzá are outstanding evidence of Mayan civilization. The city emerged in its heyday between 600 and 900 AD. Only a few decades later, the highly developed urban culture of the Maya went under. Chichén Itzá was also given up and soon recaptured from the jungle. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the complex was rediscovered and uncovered. Outstanding structures are the pyramid of the Kukulcán with the Chac-Mool, a stone sculpture of a human figure lying on its back, the ball playground, the temple of the jaguar, the cenote fountain and the temple of the wall panels.
|Official title:||Ruins of Chichen Itza|
|Cultural monument:||Pre-Columbian ruins with the 30 m high »Pyramid of Kukulcán« together with the Chac Mool and a red-painted throne in the shape of a jaguar, the 91×36 m largest ball playground in Mexico, the »Temple of the Bearded Man«, the »Temple of the Jaguar« “Platform of eagles and jaguars”, the 30 m deep cenote, the holy well, the “Hall of a thousand columns”, the tomb of the high priest, the colorful house and the “Temple of the wall panels”|
|Location:||Chichén Itzá, southeast of Mérida|
|Meaning:||a particularly impressive testimony to the Mayan and Toltec cultures on the Yucatán|
|at 435-55||Founding of the place by Mayans according to the Chumayel manuscript|
|at 682||Mayans are leaving the place|
|around 987||probably “immigration” of Toltecs under the leadership of the ruler of Tula|
|999||probably death of the ruler of Tula, Quetzalcóatl|
|1533||Spanish conquerors invade the place|
|1841/42||Research by the scholar John Stephens|
|1904-07||Exploring the “holy well”|
|1923||systematic investigation and uncovering of the ruined city|
|1972||“Discovery” of the feathered serpent’s shadow play|
A work of the feathered serpent
The enigmatic Mayan people created pyramids with almost unbelievable mathematical precision on the one hand and celebrated the bloodiest sacrificial rituals to please the gods on the other. Both can still be admired today in the “place on the edge of a well of the Itzá people”, which was first settled in the 5th century. Its residents were Mayans who had immigrated from the south and called themselves “Itzá”. They settled in the flat, hot area of today’s Yucatán, very close to a so-called sinkhole well, from which the place owes its name.
Why the Mayas left their new homeland towards the end of the 7th century has not yet been clarified. Three centuries later, the Toltecs settled in Chichén Itzá under the leadership of the ruler Quetzalcóatl, “feathered serpent”. The deep admiration of the Toltecs for the “feathered serpent” is reflected in numerous motifs that adorn the art monuments of Chichén Itzá.
Immediately after passing the main entrance, the visitor arrives at what is probably the most famous building in the original Mayan settlement of Uucyabanal: »El Castillo« or »Pyramid of Kukulcán«. The cult of the “feathered serpent” mentioned above comes alive here twice a year: The most impressive “spectacle of the feathered serpent” can be seen at the equinox on March 21st and September 21st from 15 to 17 Watch when the sun falls on the pyramid at a certain angle. Only then do the shadows of the terraces on the main staircase form the shape of a slowly winding snake. This shadow ends in two oversized stone snake heads at the foot of the stairs. This shadow play gives the impression that Kukulcán is leaving his temple.
But the pyramid also shows the high mathematical art of the Mayans. It has nine steps and four stairs have been built on each of the four sides. Each staircase has 91 steps; Supplemented by the top platform, this results in the number 365, the number of days in a year. A total of 52 plates can also be found on the sides, they symbolize the number of weeks of the year. – And another phenomenon: if you clap your hands standing in front of the main staircase, you will hear a croaking echo from the top.
To the east of the Castillo is the “Templo de los Guerreros”, the “Temple of the Warriors”, which is part of the “Thousand Columns” complex. According to physicscat, this building was a kind of vestibule and was built according to the Toltec design. Dozens of stone pillars once supported a wooden roof, something the Mayans did not know about. The wood has long since rotten, the stone pillars have been preserved. Countless images of warriors can be found on these pillars, richly hung with jewelry and heavily armed. Behind the pillared hall, which is decorated with the relief of the bird-serpent god and long-nosed masks of the rain god Chac, rises the actual “Temple of the Warriors”, a pyramid with a side length of 40 meters. Anyone who has climbed the steep stairs is greeted at the top of the platform by a “Chac Mool”, a half-seated.
Two teams once met on the nearby large ball playground who were only allowed to hold a rubber ball in play with their elbows, knees and hips and had to convey this ball through a stone ring eight meters high. This game was seen as a sacred act in which only certain people were allowed to participate. Decorated reliefs on the side walls show that players were often sacrificed. Not far from the ball court stands the “Wall of the Skulls”, called “Tzompantli”, on whose substructure the skulls of the sacrificed people were lined up and on the reliefs of which today’s observer discovers, sometimes with a shudder, impaled skulls.