Easily the best known and well-restored of Yucatan Maya archaeological sites, Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” The ruins at Chichen Itza cover an area of 6.5 sq km (2.5 sq miles) and can be toured in a day.
Chichen Itza has two distinct architectural zones. The southern zone dates back to the 7th century and showcases Chichen Itza’s early construction in the traditional Puuc Maya style of the Yucatan region. The central zone was constructed after the arrival of the Toltecs around the 10th century and showcases a unique fusion of highland central Mexican and Puuc architectural styles.
Chichén Itza’s most impressive sights and structures are located in the central zone. Here you’ll find the Juego de Pelota (Ball Court), several platforms, temples and the spectacular El Castillo (Pyramid of Kukulkan), a massive 25m stone representation of the Maya calendar. Toltec warriors are represented in the carvings around the doorway at the top of El Castillo.
Local guides at the site can provide detailed information about Chichen Itza and even lead you to a cenote (underwater sinkhole). The Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote) at Chichen Itza is believed to have been used by the ancient Maya for ceremonial purposes including human sacrifice.
Each year during the spring and autumn equinoxes the sun produces the illusion of a serpent ascending or descending the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán, a fantastic phenomenon that attracts huge crowds. The illusion is reproduced at the sound and light show that takes place nightly at the archaeological site.
You can visit these Mexican ruins on a day trip or tour to Chichen Itza, or stay overnight in a restored hacienda. The nearby Hacienda Chichen is the oldest hacienda in the Yucatán region and has been beautifully restored and converted into a luxury hotel and spa.