Chichen Itza was a Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Return it’s vital tourist attraction, Chichen Itza also remains an energetic archeological site. Brand-new discoveries space still being unearthed in the area, giving even an ext insight into the culture and achievements of the Mayan people, that ruled much of present-day Mexico and central America before the come of europe colonists. Chichen Itza was called a UNESCO people Heritage site in 1988 and, in 2007, it to be voted in a global survey as one of the brand-new Seven wonders of the World.

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Where Is Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is located about 120 miles from the modern-day resort town of Cancun, top top Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

The surname Chichen Itza is a Mayan language term because that “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” The Itza were an ethnic team of Mayans who had risen to power in the northern component of the Yucatan peninsula, whereby the city is located.

The well in the name describes a number of underground rivers that run beneath the an ar and most likely served together the resource of water for the city. This easy access to water do the location perfect for a city the size of Chichen Itza.

When to be Chichen Itza Built?

Historic account differ regarding when Chichen Itza to be built and also ultimately arisen into a facility of political and economic power. Some accounts place the facility of the city in the at an early stage 400s A.D., while rather suggest building and construction started a few years later, in the middle part of the fifth century.

What isn’t increase for debate is the Chichen Itza to be a far-ranging center of political and economic task in the Mayan culture by about 600 A.D.

By then, that was already one the the biggest cities in the Mayan world, covering nearly two square miles with densely pack commercial, residential and other frameworks made the stone. Chichen Itza even had its own “suburbs,” through smaller houses occupying the suburbs of the city.

El Castillo

Remarkably, given the reasonably simple technology available at the time, Chichen Itza was developed in one area of stormy terrain that was leveled in order to accommodate bigger structures, including, many notably, El Castillo (“the castle”), a pyramid framework that, many thanks to restoration efforts on the part of the mexican government, quiet stands today.

Another bigger structure on the site, las Monjas, which served as a federal government building, was likewise built on leveled terrain.

All of the structures of Chichen Itza were attached by a network of nearly 100 “sacbeob,” or paved roadways and sidewalks—which was significant, given that numerous European urban did not yet feature paved roadways at the time.

In addition, archeologists believe the Mayans painted plenty of of the structures in shining colors, consisting of reds, greens and blues. Today, though, the continues to be of the city maintain the pale gray color of the initial stone.

Cenote in ~ Chichen Itza

A huge cenote (sacred well or spring) located at the northern end of Chichen Itza has actually immense ceremonial and archaeological significance.

Long rumored to have actually been the website of human sacrifice, the cenote was dredged in the early 1900s. The dredging yielded countless precious artifacts made the gold, turquoise and jade, and also human remains.

Researchers found that the person remains had bone marks and also other wounds indicating that they were killed prior to being thrown into the cenote.

Chichen Itza together a resources

By the nine century, Chichen Itza was a de facto local capital, with its rulers regulating much the the central and northern Yucatan peninsula.

Via its port at Isla Cerritos ~ above the north coast, Chichen Itza became crucial commercial center, trading in goods—including gold and other treasures—with other cities throughout the Americas.

At its height, it is thought that as plenty of as 50,000 civilization lived in the city. This populace may have also been reasonably diverse, at the very least by requirements of the time, with residents immigrating come the city from past the Yucatan, including from present-day main America.

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The decline of Chichen Itza

Although the fall of Mayan people is commonly attributed to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, and also the european colonialists that followed the renowned explorer, Chichen Itza may well have lost its place as an essential city in the an ar long before then.

Indeed, historians think that plenty of of the political and economic activities of the city had actually shifted to Mayapan, a newer community built to the south and west of Chichen Itza, through the mid-1200s.

There is some evidence that Chichen Itza may have actually been raided and looted in ~ this time, back that continues to be up because that debate.

Still, once Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1526, there was a thriving neighborhood living in and also around the city. Together a result, it to be only natural that, for a time, the Spanish set up a temporary capital there.

They later on used the site as a headquarters for livestock ranching activities.

Chichen Itza today

Long exit by the Spanish, and then through the recently formed nation of Mexico, Chichen Itza ended up being a significant architectural website in the mid-1800s. It stays so today.

A variety of important structures of the original city stay standing, some thanks to restoration efforts on the part of the mexico government. Among them:

El Castillo: also known as the temple of Kukulkan, called for a Mayan deity that appears as a feathered serpent. This pyramid-shaped framework stands close come 100 feet high.

The an excellent Ball Court: simply to the northwest of El Castillo, this structure was offered for sport—primarily a team game using a ball.

The north Temple: also called the temple of the moustache Man, this little building is nearby to the great Ball Court and also features a carving ~ above its inside walls, through the main figure the a guy with a carving under his chin the resembles face hair.

The steam Bath: This structure functions a water bathtub and vapor chamber activate by making use of heated stones.

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Sacbe Number One: One the the paved streets the the city that extends practically 900 feet.