Throwback Thursday takes us to the magnificent Chichen Itzá, our destination in 2005 days after our Ruta Puuc tour. (Click name to see the earlier August post.) The site is four square miles, so give yourself a full day to look around.
- El Castillo – Temple of Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl)
This tremendous monument was built in the 11th century! The temple has stairs on four sides, 91 on each, with one top step for all = 365 days, a solar year. The Maya were precise observers of astronomy. The pyramid has nine levels, each is divided in two, to represent the 18 Maya months. The terraces have inset panels, 52 to symbolize the solar and religious calendar convergence every 52 years. Since 2006, the steps are no longer open to the public because they are too steep and dangerous.
2. Maya Ball Court
The wall of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itzá is 39 ft high (12 m). In Mayan, the game is called pokolpok. The ball represented the sun and the hoop was the sunrise or sunset. Players were forbidden from using their hands or letting the rubber ball touch the ground. They could only move it with their heads, hips, elbows and knees. The heavy ball left bruises, and players wore padding. The game was created most likely by the Olmecs, who formed and used some of the earliest known rubber balls from rubber tree sap.
3. El Mercado
The Spanish named this large expanse with pillars, El Mercado (The Market). Archeologists are not yet certain of the purpose of this space. No evidence has been excavated yet.
4. El Caracol Observatory
5. Sacred Cenote
The Sacred Cenote was a ceremonial place for the Maya to communicate with their gods. They threw gifts and sacrifices into the water to ask for relief from droughts. On the day we visited, we were fortunate enough to witness a young man in traditional garments. It was a special part of the visit, even though he admitted he was there to film a commercial…