Today’s stop is one of the new seven wonders of the world; the ruins at Chichen Itza in Mexico. This ancient Mayan city is located in Yucatan, near to Mexico’s Caribbean Sea coast. The city was founded around 600AD, and Chichen Itza grew to become one of the largest and most important cities in the Mayan empire.

The city fell in to decline somewhere around 1200AD, but no one is quite sure why. The Spanish conquests further damaged the city, leading it to fall into ruins and be completely abandoned. The most impressive part of the site is “El Castillo”, the iconic stepped pyramid. It’s actually two pyramids, with a newer structure built over the first one. At 25 meters high, the pyramid serves as a giant calendar, with 365 steps to the top, 18 terraces to represent the 18 Mayan months and 52 panels to show the 52 year cycle the Mayans used. A particularly cool feature of the pyramid is evident on the spring and autumn equinoxes, when the shadows cast by the terraces make the central stairways look like a snake crawling down the side of the building.

Other highlights of Chichen Itza are the many pillars that lead to the temple of the warriors. Look out for intricate carvings and impressive statues of Mayan gods. There are several ball courts, with the largest measuring 168 meters long by 70 meters wide. It’s thought that the losing team were sacrificed, as shown in some of the carvings on the court walls. Finally, check out the Sacred Cenote, the huge natural well that supplied the city with water.

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Read more on Chichen Itza below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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