We spent the month of February with Lori’s parents, traveling around Belize and then on to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Our second stop in the Yucatan was the post-classical Yucatec Maya city of Chichen Itza, which means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza people,” referring to a nearby cenote (water-filled limestone sinkhole) where the luckiest folks were tossed in as a sacrifice to appease the rain god, Chaac.
Chichen Itza was one of the largest and most significant Mayan cities and today remains an important center of Mayan heritage and Yucatan tourism, with over 1.2 million visitors to the ruins every year, making it Mexico’s second most visited archaeological site. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
The Cenote Sagrado or Sacred Cenote where many a Maya were sacrificed to the rain god Chaac (above).
One thing to note about the Chichen Itza ruin complex is that visitors are not permitted to climb on or through any of the ruins, which sets this complex apart from other ruins in the region such as Tikal (not to mention most ruins in Peru and Southeast Asia). As recently as the publishing of our guidebook, it seems that you could still crawl through the Las Monjas complex, but not anymore. I understand it’s all for preservation, etc., and fully support that. But I do say it’s darn fun scale the high pyramids and clamor through ancient halls and dungeons. Who knows how long ’til the rest of the world follows suit.
For a better look at how it all fits together, you may want to take a look at this map of Chichen Itza.
For more information on Chichen Izta, visit the sites below: