Chichen Itza is one of the most famous Maya ruins in Yucatan and we’d been looking forward to visiting them. What we didn’t look forward to was the expected millions of tourists occupying the place. Being the most famous ruin doesn’t come without some drawbacks.
We decided to go very early in the morning in order to beat the crowds and the heat. The heat wasn’t really going anywhere but when we arrived the place was still relatively empty. We started walking around the place and quickly learned that Chichen Itza is maybe not the ideal Maya ruin to start your Maya-journey with. Built towards the end of the classic area, it tried to reclaim the faithful following of their subordinates by introducing a new god coming from Northern Mexico: Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent.
This, however, wasn’t a huge success because this got demands frequent human sacrifices and somehow many people didn’t really love the idea of them or their next of kin being sacrificed. So Chichen Itza couldn’t return to its days of glory with this move.
It has however left its marks on the buildings and architecture. Many of which show influences of the Northern tribes that moved here after 987. Since this was the first larger Maya ruin we visited the difference to the traditional Mayan style wasn’t apparent to us.
The site itself has been almost completely restored. You can start to imagine what it must have looked like during Maya times, and then your guide tells you that back in the days it was all paved, no grass.. So it must’ve looked very different after all.Chichen Itza impresses first and foremost by its size, the buildings are huge and imposing. The area is quite extensive and you will walk around for hours without repeating your steps. From the Southern group (which includes the only round astronomy observatory known in Maya architecture) to the holy cenote in the north it’s an easy 2km. It was believed that the holy cenote held the rain god Chac and the priests would visit the cenote to pray for rain and to sacrifice young boys. From east to west the site measures about 400m
Upon exiting the site we saw the amount of people that had accumulated in front of the entrance waiting to be let in. I can imagine that Chichen Itza gets very full in the afternoons and we were definitely be happy to have done it in the morning.