Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

View over Chichen Itza from El Castillo Pyramid The Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins are the most excavated and preserved Mayan Ruins in Central America. They are also the most visited ones, because of the vicinity of the tourist resort Cancun. The first is a result of the second, but fact is that the ruins are very impressive, and definitely worth a visit. So we visit the site from nearby Valladolid, and try to avoid the crowds arriving in tour buses from Cancun.

We start the day by a jump in the pool of our carefully chosen beautiful budget hotel in Valladolid, close to Chichen Itza. At breakfast, we have a taste of all the different Mexican dishes presented on the buffet, with varying success. Then, we step into the collectivo arranged for us to bring us to Chichen Itza, the first Mayan ruins we will visit on our trip through Central America. On the ride to these ruins, we get a glimpse of the arid landscape of Yucatan, and of some villages.

Climbing El Castillo

Upon arrival at the ruins, we hear that today is a public holiday, and entrance is therefore free of charge. It’s still early, so we enjoy the quiet scene when we climb the first and largest pyramid, El Castillo. The climb is tiring, but the views from the pyramid more than make up for that. After enjoying the views over the other ruins and the surrounding forest, we are ready to climb back down, which is more difficult than going up. The rope along the steep stairs is a necessity for many.

After El Castillo, we visit the playing field and skeleton wall, where we learn a little about the awful scenes that took place here. The losers of the soccer-like games were executed immediately, their heads being placed on the skeleton wall. After a visit to the palace with columns, we continue along the bathhouse through the woods to the other temples. We shoot a lot of pictures, and learn the meaning of the different buildings and about the different Mayan gods from our guidebook.

Wildlife and tourists

At the “Nunnery”, with many sculptures of the rain god “Chac”, we take a short break. During this break a large iguana falls from a tree near us, and we see some vultures circling above. Still enough room for wildlife in this touristic place. How touristic the place is becomes clear when we return to the large central square where El Castillo is situated. The place is now crowded with many sunbathers from Cancun, who at least have one cultural excursion on their holiday.

Because of the heat, and since we cannot find the sacred cenote, we decide to leave. At the exit we visit some of the souvenir shops, but since we are harassed by the vendors we quickly walk to the car park where we take a collectivo back to Valladolid.

The Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins have certainly impressed us. Not only the immense structures, but also the tales of Mayan priest performing their horrid ceremonies here. For us, it's only the start of our Mayan tour through Central America, and we are eager to see the Mayan ruins at the other sites.


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