Chichen Itza - the pinnacle of Mayan astronomical related architecture
26 Julio 2015
|Merida to Chichen Itza|
Several years ago, I sub-contracted to a Mexican company building a transit system in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There was a flurry of excitement through the office with everyone being urged to send in their vote to have Chichen Itza accepted as one of the “new list” Seven Wonders of the world. Although I had not yet seen it, I had been to Palenque and thought the Mayans deserved some international recognition. Of course, I resolved to visit Chichen Itza soon. As we all know, soon is a relative word, especially in the life of a cruiser.
Planet Guide Book did not give the small town of Piste, which is beside the
ruins, a very good report but it was so convenient for a brief stop we decided
it would be fine. I managed to find a room on line and made a reservation. Being
a very small town Piste was only serviced by the chicken buses or the big tour
bus operators that were much more expensive. Obviously we were on the chicken
The trip from Merida through Yucatan State was a continuation of the lowland plains we had been seeing since coming out of the mountains in up-state Chiapas. The agriculture gradually diminished as we passed from fields with a few rocks to rocks with a few fields. The scrub vegetation was thick, so cross roads and small villages, and we stopped at every small village, provided the only views of any distance.
|The High Priest's Tomb|
The owner’s friend told us about a laser lightshow they project onto the main pyramid at the ruins so we walked to the site that evening in time to see an incredibly good lightshow depicting the history and development of Chichen Itza. It is a new feature that will have an entry fee once the winter tourism season starts but for now, with the Mexican tourists visiting, they are working out the bugs of night time crowd handling and show presentation all for free. It was good getting our first look at El Castillo Pyramid during the night as a backdrop to the presentation.
The following morning we were back at the entry gates before they opened at 8:00 am. Two backpacking girls from Germany and another girl from the UK were the only ones ahead of us as the gates opened. The early morning jungle air had a mist that gave a soft shrouding to the ruins once we got into the open field area to get a perspective on El Castillo. The perfection of balance is sublime, especially when one realises it is not purely a beautiful architectural accomplishment but also a precise realization of astronomical understanding with the equinox orientation and chronological precision reflected in the numerology in the construction.
|Some detailed stonework|
|The largest ball court in the Mayan world|
|Some of the thousand columns|
|The Sacred Cenote|
Arriving in the cooler morning air permitted us to walk at a good pace through the site while the hawkers were arriving and setting up their blankets of wares and showing little interest in our exploration. By the time we were leaving at 11:30, the site was filling up, the parking lot was full of monster coaches from Cancun and Merida. The other notable difference with Chichen Itza is that due to its accessible location and popularity, the ruins are protected by barrier ropes. This is both necessary and to be expected but the hands on feel of climbing to the top of the more remote, lesser known sites is not there. As Palenque, Yaxchelan, Tikal and Copan’s popularity grows and the numbers increase they too will have to restrict access.
|Chichen Itza to Cancun, Quintana Roo and onto Vancouver|