The Ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá

The many layers of the mythical Mayan ruins in Yucatán

By CyArk

Chichen Itza (2005) by CyArkCyArk

Just an hour’s drive south from Mexico’s Caribbean coastline lie the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá. These ruins along the Yucatán Peninsula hold the secrets of one of the most powerful and sophisticated city states from the pre-Columbian Americas. 

Photograph of Chichén Itzá taken by A.P. Maudslay (1881/1894) by Alfred Percival MaudslayBritish Museum

Chichén Itzá is a popular tourist attraction with thousands flocking to North America to visit it. The park spans over about 2 square miles but when the city was at its peak it reached up to 10 square miles. That’s a lot of uncovered territory.  

Chichen (2005) by CyArkCyArk

A large portion of the ruins have not yet been excavated and dense forest has naturally hidden the rest of this mysterious ancient world. Nearby is the Sacred Cenote, a sinkhole once used to offer up sacrifices to the gods.

See Chichén Itzá in a panoramic view.

Chichen caracol by CyArkCyArk

The Mayans had an advanced understanding of mathematics and astronomy, seen on the imprints of their structures. 

Chichen Itza forest (2005) by CyArkCyArk

Chichén Itzá was a vibrant cosmopolitan city filled with monuments from various architectural influences. The types of architecture give us an idea of the city’s economic wealth, with styles ranging from local Yucatecan to prominent Mesoamerican cultural groups.  

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