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Chichen Itza

 

Chichén Itzá, declared as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in July 2007, is rated amongst the most important archaeological sites of the Maya Civilization and covers an area of approximately six square miles where hundreds of buildings once stood.

The main attraction of this site is the Pyramid of Kukulkán also known as El Castillo meaning ‘The Castle’ in Spanish. Dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God Kukulkán, it is composed of two structures superimposed on one another, with the later larger pyramid built over an earlier original structure that is dated before 900 AD. The newer pyramid is about 55 metres (180 feet) on each side and has nine stepped terraces rising up to 24 metres (78 feet) with a small temple on the top. Archaeologists believe that the nine tiers symbolize the ‘Region of the Dead’ to the ancient Maya.

The architecture of El Castillo is full of symbolism, particularly with reference to the important Maya calendar. The four stairways leading up to the central platform each have 91 steps, making a total of 364; if the central platform is added to this, it equals  the 365 days of the solar year. On either side of each stairway are nine terraces, totalling 18 on each face of the pyramid, which is equal to the number of months in the Maya solar calendar. On the face of the terraces there are 52 panels, representing the 52-year cycle when both the solar and religious calendars become realigned.

The base of the northern staircase is made up of two colossal carved heads of feathered serpents which are aligned so that a special effect occurs on the Spring and Fall equinox. On those days, 20th / 21st March and 22nd / 23rd September at about 3 pm, the sunlight creates a series of seven isosceles triangles of light and shade on the ramp of the northern staircase – this creates the impression of the body of a slithering serpent 37 yards long that creeps downwards until it joins the huge serpent’s head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway. This symbolizes the descent to earth of the Feathered Serpent Kukulkán, and also the beginning or end of the agricultural cycle, according to the Equinox (Spring or Autumn).

Uxmal

Uxmal is located in the midst of the only group of mountains in the Yucatán Peninsula, in an area where there are no rivers or even cenotes which abound in other parts of the Peninsula. The difficulty in finding a source of water is the reason why, even today, there exists no settlement near this place. In spite of this, more than a millennium ago, one of the most refined cultures of the Maya world flourished here.

As a World Heritage site, Uxmal is one of the best restored and maintained ruins in the Yucatán. It is the most important Puuc ceremonial centre, an architectural masterpiece and the most visually stunning of the five Maya ruins on the Puuc route. The structures at this important site are excellent representations of the Puuc architectural style whose unique characteristics include monumental buildings, walls and vaulted roofs covered with carved stone, geometric forms, sunken columns, latticework and stone masks of the rain god, Chac. The latter is represented by impressive geometric masks made of stone with serpent’s features and a long nose; these are accompanied by diverse symbols like scrolls, flowers, etc.

Kabah

Kabáh lies 28 km south-east of Uxmal. Since 1993, the 2470-acre site has become a protected area. The most famous structure here is the most beautiful and extraordinary ‘Palace of the Masks’.  The façade, decorated with about 400 stone masks of the long-nosed rain god Chac is known as the Codz Poop, meaning ‘Rolled Matting’, because of the pattern of the stone mosaics. The massive repetition of a single set of elements is unusual in Maya art and here, it is used to create a unique effect.

You can read about these sites and other archaeological zones of Mexico, my travel experiences and discover the many beautiful destinations in Mexico in my ebook “Discovering Mexico

Click here to read the book synopsis and sample chapters and to know how you can buy a copy of my ebook.

Enjoy the sights of Acapulco in this rockin’ song by JLo : Follow The Leader

 

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