We’re working down our list of the 100 places you need to visit. MarketMAPS takes a look at one of the greatest architectural and historical landmarks on the North American continent: Chichen Itza, Mexico.
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More than 1 million tourists visit the ruins at Chichen Itza every year. Though the history of this Mayan city and its mythic temple is surrounded in mystery, scientists have been able to piece together some remarkable facts about Chichen Itza.
For over 600 years, from 600 AD to the 1200’s, Chichen Itza was a focal point of the Mayan Empire. Located in the northern region of Yucatan State in Mexico, the city of Chichen Itza was first established around various sinkholes in the arid region. These sinkholes gave the Mayans access to groundwater and were used as part of human sacrifice rituals.
Some time in the 1000’s, Chichen Itza became the political, economic, and sociocultural center of the Mayan empire. But by around 1250, Chichen Itza had declined, leaving the city a decaying, but not unpopulated, ruin. Despite a declining society, the Mayan people stayed strong. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, it took them almost 100 years to conquer the great Mayan city.
Other than its history, Chichen Itza is perhaps best known for its ancient temples and unique architecture. The city and its buildings mainly display the Puuc-style of architecture, which involves mosaic decorated upped facades. El Castillo is one of the most famous pyramids in the world. Similar in style to the Aztecs, this step-temple stands almost 100 feet tall. When excavations began in the 1930’s, archaeologists discovered a staircase leading to a haunting statue of a jade-inlaid jaguar.
Chichen Itza has many other great buildings and exceptional architectural feats. If you’re looking to plan a trip to Chichen Itza, or if you’d like to decorate your home with maps of Mexico, contact MarketMAPS. We publish the most complete selection of maps of anywhere in the US and the world.