Chichen Itza & the Pyramid of Kukulcan
Chichen Itza is about 95 miles from Tulum You can get there in about 2 ½ hours by car or even better take a deluxe tour which will include lunch, many stopping at the beautiful colonial city of Valladolid, and a stop at a cenote. Chichen Itza is a World Heritage Site located in the Yucatan Peninsula and was recently named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This is of little surprise as its size, symmetry and astrological importance are a testament to the Mayan civilization.
The instantly recognizable Temple of Kulkulcan, also known as El Castillo, dominates Chichen Itza. Kukulcan is the Mayan name for Quetzacoatl. The pyramid has a staircase on each side and at sunrise and sunset during both the Spring and Autumn equinoxes visitors gather from all over the world to watch this archaeo-astronomical phenomenon. The corner of the pyramid casts a shadow of a plumed serpent, Kukulcan. As the sun moves, the shadow of the serpent slithers down the side of the pyramid. It was believed that the serpent came down to fertilize the earth.
The Great Ball Court is the largest ball court in ancient Mesoamerica and can be found in Chichen Itza. It measures 166 x 68 meters and is 12 meters high with stone rings for the game and intricate carvings of intertwined serpents on the walls.
The Temple of the Warriors is another stepped pyramid with a row of carved columns at the front depicting the ancient warriors. You will find a Chac Mool at the top of the pyramid, protecting the entrance to the temple.
The Cenote Sagrado was used by the Mayans to conduct sacrifices to Chaac, the god of rain, during times of drought. Many objects such as gold, jade, obsidian as well as skeletons have been found at the bottom of the cenote by archaeologists. The Cenote Sagrado is the most impressive of the cenotes found in this area and measures an amazing 60 meters in diameter with sheer cliffs dropping down 27 meters to the water below.
You must be sure to visit Chichen Itza during your vacation to Tulum. It is a wonder not to be missed.