If you are older than 55 you must remember "Chariots of the Gods" by Erich von Däniken.
When in 1970 I saw the West German documentary film “Chariots of the Gods” (in Russian “Memories of the Future”) that was based on Erich von Däniken's 1968 best seller, "Chariots of the Gods", I learnt for the first time about Chichen Itza and a relief of "Maya Astronaut" on one of its buildings.
How could I imagine that I would see that Astronaut in reality?
Traveling around the world, I always miss my dogs that are waiting for me at home.
So I am glad of any opportunity to talk with local animals. In Chichen Itza my interlocutors were iguanas and birds.
I especially liked the iguanas. They were very in harmony with ancient ruins and I had the impression that they knew all about the people who had lived in these places hundreds and thousand years ago. Just they can’t tell us about it and we speculate, we are wrong, and they are laughing at us and our speculations.
Today Chichén Itzá is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site and was named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” The ruins at Chichen Itza cover an area of 6.5 sq km and can be toured in a day.
Chichen Itza , meaning "at the mouth of the well of the Itza") was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya civilization. The archaeological site is located in the municipality of Tinum, in the Mexican state of Yucatán.
It was established before the period of Christopher Colombus and probably served as the religion center of Yucatan for a while.
Today it is the second most visited site of Mexico.
Citchen Itza ancient site is open to visit 365 days a year.
The site is open from 09:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Climbing to the top of the pyramid is forbidden after all.
Light and sound show begins every night at 7:00 pm in Fall and Winter and at 8:00 pm in Spring and Summer.
Entrance fee is $ 98 pesos (including the show)
You can rent simultaneous translation equipment for English, Italian, French and German; also Mayan translations are available (headphones are $ 25 pesos )
Fondest memory: http://www.chichenitza.com/
You can watch my photo of Chichen-Itza on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 20° 40' 56.67" N 88° 34' 19.37" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio Visitor Center.
Favorite thing: However you go to Chichen, try to be there as early as possible. It opens at 8 and by the time you have finished touring the place at around noon, the hordes arrive from Cancun at the peak of the noontime sun and heat.
So, what's the best way to get to Chichen Itza? Do a tour? On your own? Well, that depends on what you want from your visit. Since I was coming from Cancun, I chose the guided tour from my hotel. It's easy: the bus picks you up, the tour guide shows you around & the bus drops you back at your hotel. About a 12 hour day, roughly six spent on the bus, but the simplest & least expensive way to do it. The problem is, you only get a few hours at the ruins, nowhere near enough time to explore everything.
If you're staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, etc, you could also rent a car and drive straight to the ruins. It's more expensive for sure, but you'll have much more freedom. Get there when you want, leave when you please, stay as long as you'd like. See the nighttime light show too.
Next time, I may do something like that. There are many quality hotels near Chichen Itza - try the Hotel Mayaland, for example. You could also explore some of the local towns surrounding the ruins. Valladolid comes to mind.
There are so many ways to get to Chichen Itza. Find the one that's right for you, and enjoy your stay.
The TEMPLE OF THE WARRIORS Templo de Los Guerreros (1100 - 1300 A.D.) is ten metres tall and over forty metres wide and is a good example of the Toltec influence on Maya architecture.
The upper temple has two enclosures whose entrance is guarded by a statue of Chac-Mool.
Chichen Itza takes its name from a group of warriors called Itza. They conquere n existing city and called it CHichen Itza, which means the "mouth of the well of the Itz?". Why well? because of the two cenotes in the area - and most likely because of the large cenote that then became their sacred cenote.
They were not only warriors - they also were accomplished architects and astronomers. They great artists, too; you can see this on their buildings - many are painted with many colors and decorated them with beautiful sculptures. Their main God was main god was Kukulcan - the rain god, the feathered snake.
Fondest memory: I like the mistery that surrounds this beautiful and well-preserved city... it was abandoned suddely and its inhabitants disappeared into the surrounding jugle.. why?
I also liked the simple details, like the rings of stone that they used to play ball
The Castle or KULULCAN PYRAMID rising 30 metres from the earth, is by far the most impressive structure of the Chichen-Itza ruins.
The numbers of its different measurements relate to digits in the Maya solar calendar -- 91 steps on four sides (364) plus the platform = 365, the number of days in a year.
Fondest memory: The first time I saw the "PYRAMID" I was blown away by its overwhelming beauty. It was such a fantastic sight to see.
Favorite thing: On the sides of the Ballcourt are a number of reliefs. Carvings depict the beheading of people and throwing their bodies down the steps of the pyramids describing the human sacrifices that was required from these games. It was believed that the losers were sacrificed but it is now believed that the winners were actually bestowed the "honor". I think that it would diminish my will to win if I played this game.
If you really want a quality visit see Chichen-Itza without the hoards of tourists climbing up and down in the sun, stay there the night before you visit. (We stayed within walking distance at the Pyramide Inn, Piste).
Wake up early and be at that ticket counter/gate by the time it opens at 8am. Hopefully, you'll be first in line with only a handfull of other people there. Walk briskly to the site and you'll get to climb it all by yourself in much cooler weather than the coach-loads of tourists who start arriving by 8:30-9am.
Fondest memory: Best thing about staying the night before, is that you can go that evening to the "light and sound" show. An outdoor 'theatre" with coloured spotlights projecting on the main pyramid telling you all about the history.
Favorite thing: If you look carefully on the front of the Platform of the Jaguars, you will notice depictions of the animals. The frieze is amazingly clear and well preserved. I give the credit to the talented craftsmen whose work has stood the test of time.
Grupo de Las Mil Columnas or GROUP OF THE THOUSAND COLUMNS once supported a roof that deteriorated long ago and which continue on endlessly into the jungle.
Hans and I enjoyed wandering through these ancient columns. We even played a game of peek-a-boo and had some fun with it.
The tzompantli or PLATFORM OF THE SKULLS was used to depict the skulls of enemy warriors defeatd in battle and also the heads of sacrificed victims.
Sixty meters long and twelve meters wide, the stone structure was dedicated to the glory of military victories and ritual sacrifice. It was used to terrify and deter anyone who might attack the city.
A natural waterhole, the SACRED CENOTE was special to the people for its religious and social significance.
The well (Chen Ku) is seven fathoms deep and more than 100 feet wide.
The early Mayans offered semi-precious stones, metal and clay objects, to the gods of water.
The MAYAN BALL COURT
Built 900 -1100 A.D.
Maya Toltec Architectural Style
Chichen Itza's Ball Court (Juego De Pelota) , is the largest, at 90 metres long, of the many ball courts that have been found in Mayan cities in the Yucatan.
The accoustics of the stadium are excellent. The panels along the side walls depict scenes from the ball game and its players.