Cancun/Playa del Carmen is a popular resort getaway for North Americans and Europeans, the perfect place to soak up the sun and get rid of those winter goosebumps. Yet there is so much more to the region than just white-sand beaches. While you are there, consider making a day trip to a Mayan ruin sites. Chichen Itza is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and is well worth the three-hour drive from Cancun.
Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities from the period between 600 and 1200 A.D. Dominating the site is the 30-meter-high step pyramid, which is known as the Temple of Kukulkan (more commonly referred to as “El Castillo” — “the castle”). Kukulkan was a Mayan god, a feathered serpent who bore some relation to Quetzalcoatl in the Aztec tradition.
The fascinating fact about this pyramid is that its architectural features serve as a visual representation of the Mayan calendar — (yes, that same calendar that claims that we’re all about to die). Also, on the days of the spring and fall equinox, the sun is aligned in such a way that a trail of triangular shadows appears to cascade down the side of the temple. Some people believe this to be another representation of both the Mayan calendar and the deity Kukulkan.
I’m not going to get into all of the details on the site’s history and symbolism here, as I plan to save that for a longer article. Still, I hope you keep Chichen Itza in mind for your next trip to Cancun or the Yucatan Peninsula. You only have two months to see it before the world ends, after all! 😉