Chichén Itzá (map) is the largest of the archaeological cities of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. It is one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. It was granted World Heritage Site status in 1988 by UNESCO World Heritage Site and was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Chichen Itza was a center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya for over 1,000 years. The Sacred Cenote (a large natural limestone sink hole) was holy to the ancient Rain God “Chac”. About 1221 the Maya revolted against the rulers of Chichen Itza. The city was not abandoned, but as political power shifted elsewhere it declined and no major new buildings were constructed.
+ More information > Wikipedia • Wikivoyage • UNESCO
Many tourists visit Chichen Itza as a day trip, especially from Cancún, more than 160 km (100 miles) away. This archaeological site is also an hour and a half away from *Mérida, the capital of Yucatan.
It is recommended you avoid a day-trip visit to Chichen Itza and schedule a night or two to enjoy all the activities nearby. This allows time to see more than just a portion of this large site. If you stay a night here, come to the archaeological site early in the day before the sun is so hot, and before most of the day-trippers arrive.
These are the vestiges of a fascinating civilization of times past. Well informed guides speaking all major languages are available for hire here, or explore on your own with a guide book and map.
The *Pyramid of Kukulcan (El Castillo, map). The most famous landmark of Chichen Itza. This was a temple-pyramid dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, Kukulcan. It is nicknamed “The Castle”. The Maya would often build newer bigger temple-pyramids atop older ones. Archaeologists have constructed tunnels allowing a view of the earlier temple of Kukulcan inside the later one. Go in the door at the foot of the north stairway, and you can go up a steep interior stairway up to the room on the top where you can see King Kukulcan’s Jaguar Throne, carved of stone and painted red with jade spots.
There are several fantastic cenotes (map), fresh water sinkholes in the limestone, found near Chichen Itza. Some of them are surrounded by lush gardens with restaurants, washrooms and showers. During a hot day, cenotes make for a great way to cool your self off in the afternoon, take a break and split up your day.
BUS > mexicoautobuses.com • ClickBus. If traveling by bus, be sure to take the express (first class) buses (directo, sin escalas, primera clase), if available. First class buses travel over longer distances between cities use toll freeways where available. Other buses such as the second class (economico, ordinario, local) buses may be very similar to first class only they travel along secondary highways through cities, towns and villages and stop anywhere along the road on request.
RAIL > Amtrak (San Diego, Yuma, Del Rio и El Paso). The only available passenger train is the Chihuahua al Pacific Railway (CHEPE) operated by Ferromex between Los Mochis and the city of Chihuahua, through the Copper Canyon. (*Rail transport in Mexico)
AIRPORTS > aeropuertosgap.com.mx
WATERWAYS > –