The Spanish Language Blog

The Maya

The Maya lived in an area what is now southeast Mexico (Yucatan) to parts of what is now Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, among others.

One of the wonders of the world

1.2 Million tourists visit the ruins of Chichen Itza every year. Chichen Itza is ideal as a day trip from one of the many resorts in the area such as Playa del Carmen. Chichen Itza was founded between 600 and 900 AD by the Mayans. However, it was not until the 10th century AD that the city became important to the Maya. From then on, Chichen Itza was one of the most important Mayan cities. In 1850, the city was discovered by archaeologists. Since 1988, the city has been listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. On July 7, 2007, El Castillo, located in Chichen Itza was listed as one of the wonders of the world.

El Castillo is the most famous Mayan monument in the world. El Castillo is a pyramid that is also a calendar, the Mayan calendar. The pyramid consists of 18 levels, these levels equal the 18 months that make up a year. The number of steps of the pyramid, together with the upper platform makes a total number of 365, which represents the number of days per year in the Mayan calendar. Finally, the pyramid has a total of 52 separate planes on the sides of the pyramid, which equals the number of years in a century in the Mayan calendar. El Castillo is 30 meters high, unfortunately it is no longer possible for the public to climb the pyramid.

In addition to its function as a calendar, the pyramid has another wonderful effect. On March 21 and September 21, the beginning of spring and autumn, the position of the sun creates a beautiful shadow play. The position of the sun and thus its shadow makes it appear as if a 34-meter-long snake climbs up the pyramid's steps, and slides back down the other side of the pyramid. This phenomenon attracts hundreds of visitors from all over the world every year.

Furthermore, there are many other monuments in Chichen Itza. For example, there is the largest ball court in the Mayan world. There are also several temples present including the temple of tables, the temple of warriors and the temple of jaguars. You can also find an observatory called El Caracol. This observatory was used by the Maya to make astronomical observations through the slots in the roof of the dome.

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