Playa del Carmen Travel Blog› entry 3 of 6 › view all entries
Today was an early morning because we were off to Chichen Itza, one of the seven new wonders of the world. is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Maya name "Chich'en Itza" means “At the mouth of the well of the Itza.
Dominating the center of Chichén is the Temple of Kukulcan, often referred to as "El Castillo" (the castle). This step pyramid with a ground plan of square terraces with stairways up each of the 4 sides to the temple on top. On the Spring and Fall equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl - along the side of the North staircase. On these two days, the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid with the sun's movement. The geographical layout of the buildings in Chichen Itza were built with aucostics in mind.
The Temple of the Warriors complex consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors. At the top of the stairway on the pyramid’s summit (and leading towards the entrance of the pyramid’s temple) is a Chac-Mool. The Chac-Mool depicts a human figure in a position of reclining with the head up and turned to one side, holding a tray over the stomach. The Chac-Mool was used in human sacrifice of those under 13 years of age. The Mayans would cut out the heart of the child and place it on the tray of the Chac-Mool as an offering to the gods.
The Great Ball Court of Chichen Itza is the largest ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. It measures 166 by 68 meters (545 by 232 feet). The imposing walls are 12 meters high, and in the center, high up on each of the long walls, are rings carved with intertwining serpents.
The object of the game was to make the ball pass through one of two vertical stone rings that were placed on each side of the court, six meters from the ground. The ball was thrown by hand into the court, and thenceforth the players hit it back and forth with hips, thighs, and upper arms (but not by kicking or throwing with one’s hands) and through hoops set along the side walls of the court. In some versions of the game, bats, paddles or mitts were used.
The winning captain would present his head to the losing captain, who then decapitates him. While this may seem a strange reward, the Mayans believed this to be the ultimate honor.
At the base of the high interior walls are slanted benches with sculpted panels of teams of ball players. In one panel, one of the players has been decapitated and from the wound emits seven streams of blood; six become wriggling serpents and the center becomes a winding plant.
At one end of the Great Ball Court is the North Temple, popularly called the Temple of the Bearded Man. This small masonry building has detailed bas relief carving on the inner walls, including a center figure that has carving under his chin that resembles facial hair. At the south end is another, much bigger temple, but in ruins.
Built into east wall are the Temples of the Jaguar. The Upper Temple of the Jaguar overlooks the ball court and has an entrance guarded by two, large columns carved in the familiar feathered serpent motif.
In the entrance to the Lower Temple of the Jaguar, which opens behind the ball court, is another jaguar throne, similar to the one in the inner temple of El Castillo, except that it is well worn and missing paint or other decoration. The outer columns and the walls inside the temple are covered with elaborate bas-relief carvings.
Behind this platform is a walled inscription which depicts a tzompantli (rack of impaled human skulls) in relief.
On our way back to the resort, we stopped for lunch at a small shop and restaurant. I’m not sure which was which but we ate iguana, snake and armadillo. I think they all tasted like chicken.
We got back and it was off to the pool. Chichen Itza was so hot so it was nice to take a dip in the pool and cool off for a minute before heading to dinner. Dinner consisted of three bottles of red wine and I think we ordered everything on the menu before heading over to the South Lobby to go dancing and continue drinking. Bed time -Kate