Our last day in Mexico, we stepped into the world of the Mayan history, traveling back to 800 B.C. Sneak peaks like this into the history, sweeps you away, leaves you amazed and gives you memories you will never forget!
Chicen Itza is one of the largest and most accessible archeological site from the Mayan time and was built between 800 to 1300 B.C. Having a guide with a great passion and knowledge for the Mayan time, it was easy to dream away to find yourself in another time so different from ours.
Chichen Itza consists of two parts, the Late and Terminal Classic part built around 800-1000 B.C. (not to be missed!) and the post classical part built from 1000 B.C. to 1300 B.C, the most famous part due to El Castillo pyramid.
In the older part, we walked among impressive pyramids, massive temples, saunas and ball courts, all built with state of the art skills, precision and technologies and with the stories of our guide, they all became so much more than beautiful buildings!
Unlike the Spanish, the Mayans had a strong belief that buildings and heritages of their ancestors should not be destroyed and instead they used existing buildings as a base and built around or over them. This can apparently easily be seen by an educated eye by the stones, symbols and style used. Every building is filled with Mayan symbols and luckily some of them can still be seen, given us clues about their meaning and role and the life back then.
But you also get shocked by the stories of the cruelty, the harsh rituals that was a big part of their lives and beliefs.
Sport was already then important and the ball games attracted huge crowds of spectators. However, the courts were not a place for watching some thrilling games for fun but rather a win or die game. The game was played with a soccer-sized ball that should be thrown through rings high up on the walls, not an easy task having seen the small rings. In the end the captain of the losing team would be beheaded…
The most famous building of Chichen Itza is the huge El Castillo Pyramid, full of cosmological symbolism and interpretations. The number of stairs of this pyramids is debated. Our guide meant that it consists of 360 steps, 4 sides with 90 steps each while many others mean that it consists of 365 to represent our calendar. Regardless of the number it is a truly stunning masterpiece. Every angel and part has its own secrets to be discovered.
Next to El Castillo is the beautiful Temple of Warriors, also know as the temple of thousands columns (in reality it is not thousands but around hundred…). An impressive building where you can still see the inscriptions of the many important Mayan symbols as well as the Chac Mool figure. This is thought to be a place for relaxing but also a place for sacrifices and nunnery.
The skills of the Mayans as well the Incas is impressive and it is very said to hear the same story over and over again traveling in this region. “Then the Spanish came and destroyed most of what was built. What you see today is just a very small piece of what existed back then”. One would have hoped, we had learnt something from this…
It is no surprise that Chichen Itza was chosen as one of the seven new wonders of the world and is an UNESCO World Heritage area of immense cultural significance. No one leaves this place untouched!
Our day in the Mayan footstep did however include more than one of the wonders of the world. We stopped by the Mayan City of Valladolid as well as one of the many Cenotes, a natural phenomenon only to be found in the Yucatán Peninsula.
Cenotes are another great example of the beauty and power of our impressive nature. A cenote is a natural hole, a secret cave, not visible from the outside and caused by the groundwater making the limestone collapse from within. This was a very important water and offering place for the Mayas. It is in its way another natural wonder, a beautiful and peaceful oasis!