Chichen Itza




Chichen Itza Walls


Temple of Kukulkan


El Caracol "The Observatory"


High Priest's Temple


"La Inglisia" a Temple to Chaac


Venus Platform


Detail on Staircase Pediment


A Feathered Serpent Head Detail




Photographs by courtesy of

Christopher and Leanne


The North






The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is an arid place that at first glance does not seem suitable for the establishment of a huge city. On this limestone plain there are no rivers or streams visible as, like other similar areas, the waters run through cave systems below the ground. Water is available from a number of sink holes, known as cenotes, that have eroded to the surface allowing access to the high underground water table. The importance of one of the two cenotes on the Chichen Itza site was obviously of such great religious significance that a great city should be begun there.


The Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Well of Sacrifice) is 200 feet in diameter, with 90 foot high cliffs reaching down to the lakes surface, continually fed by subterranean streams, and supplying enough water all year round to support the cities population.


Chichen means “at the mouth of the well,” but the Spanish called it Brujas del Agua (the Water of the Witches) and it was here, at the Well of Sacrifice, that many votive artifacts of precious gold and jeweled items were deposited in the waters, along with the evidence of many human sacrifices. It was believed that anyone who survived being thrown into the lake had the power of prophecy, and they were held in high esteem. It has been established that the well was a place of pilgrimage for centuries, and was only terminated when the Spanish finally conquered the Mayan people. A sacred way, the White Road a ceremonial processional route, 300 yards long runs from the Platform of Venus to the Cenote, at 30feet wide it is one of the most impressive stone flagged roads of many that criss cross the site.


In its hay day Chichen Itza was a major city, trading by sea, but the history of the Mayan people is quite sketchy, it appears that the invading Xtians destroyed all evidence of the Mayans much the way they did in Pagan Europe, preferring a “Dark Ages” to the abundance of knowledge that was accumulated over many millennium prior to the introduction of their Middle Eastern cult ideas. It is still debated whether they had a king or were ruled by a council.


The ruins at Chichen Itza consists of several pyramids, temples and other buildings, built on the site of earlier temples after 500 CE, and include a bath house similar to the Roman style. Because of the variation in architectural styles, it is thought that around 1000 CE the Toltecs invaded the area and made it their capital city, although this is disputed. Much of the site is still under investigation, with large sections cut off from the public, and archaeologists are digging under the buildings revealing earlier structures and underground passageways.


The step pyramid, known to the Spanish as El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulkan, towers over the central area of the site. Staircases lead up each face to a platform where a temple is built. Its square base is solar oriented, like many Neolithic sites in Europe, albeit on the equinoxes, when the serrated shadows of the pyramids corner slithers snake like down the staircase to the carved serpent’s heads at the base.


The Spanish arrived on the Yucatan Peninsula in 1526, but despite campaigns into the interior they did not get to Chichen Itza, where they hoped to establish a capitol, until 1532, when they renamed it Cuidad Real. However the Maya surrounded the city, cutting off their lines of supply and eventually forced the Spanish to abandon the city under cover of darkness in 1534. By 1535 the Maya had the peninsula back to themselves for a brief period but eventually the Spanish overwhelmed them and took control of the area.