Friday, February 26, 2016

Flying to Chichen Itza

The last time I was in this area, 20 years ago, I went on a flight out of Cozumel to see the huge Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza. I have always wanted to go back, so I arranged for 3 of us to do just that while our ship was in Cozumel.

The plane sometimes does a fly-by of the ruins, but we had fairly bad weather, so this picture is from 20 years ago. It's a huge area of ruins, but you can see the 3 main areas here -El Castillo in the center, the Temple of the Warriors in the upper left, and the Ball Court in the lower right.

Our tour included a tour guide, and we went first to see El Castillo.

The pyramid was built with the Mayan calendar in mind. And on the spring or fall equinox, the setting sun forms a snake pattern going up the stairs.

Most of the sides of the pyramid have been reconstructed, but one side is left more or less as it was found.

This is an artist's interpretation of how it was found.

And this is one of the earliest pictures.

You can no longer climb up any of the structures, but you could 20 years ago. This was the view from the top of El Castillo looking towards the Temple of the Warriors and the surrounding structures.

This was the view we got this time.

You can barely see the figure of Chaac-Mool on the top.

You can see him better from this 20-year-old picture. Chac-mool was an intermediate between men and the gods. Notice the small dish that would have been used for the receiving of sacrifices.

A different view of the Temple of the Warriors and the Group of the Thousand Columns.

Since I was there last, hundreds more columns have been recovered from the rubble and put in place.

Next door is the Temple of the Large Tables, which has not been completely conserved.

Another highlight of Chichen Itza is the Main Ball Court, the largest and best preserved anywhere, and only one of nine ball courts built in the city.

The goal was to get the ball through this ring without using your hands. And if you win? Your captain gets sacrificed!

On the nearby Platform of the Jaguars and the Eagles are reliefs of both jaguars and eagles clutching human hearts.

The nearby Wall of the Skulls could represent the sacrificed ball players or their dead enemies.

The Mayans were really into astronomy, as evidenced by this Observatory. They perfected a solar calendar of 365 days.

Close to the Observatory is a building called The Church, although its actual use is not really known.

Also nearby is the Red House -

And the Nunnery. I don't know why it's called that because they didn't have nuns.

We were getting a little nervous about getting back to the ship on time, so we skipped lunch and went right to the very busy Chichen Itza International Airport. Ours was the only plane in sight.

Except for these planes that aren't going anywhere soon.

We got a great view of the ship on our way back to the Cozumel airport, and made it back to the ship in time.

It was a fantastic trip! Next stop - back to Tampa.


  1. SO very interesting, the whole sacrifice thing was quite creepy...but the temples and stone work was amazing!!

  2. Very nice how you put the 20-year old photos in with the new. How did you get the old ones? Previous trip?

    Strange how such an advanced culture could be so "barbaric" as well.

  3. Wasn't that climb to the top of the pyramid amazing? We went in 1999 when it was still allowed, and I still remember how I had to sit down, scoot over to the edge, and turn around to take the first step off the platform with my back to the vertigo-inducing steep steps ... I would have been stuck at the top otherwise. Your post brought back great memories.

  4. Just beautiful. Amazing stone work, and all done without machinery.


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