The Ballcourts of Chichén Itzá

Explore the Mesoamerican ballgame

British Museum

In many Mesoamerican sites you can find ballcourts and Chichén Itzá is no exception. This site has several ballgame courts.

This ballcourt is not only the most important in the city, but also the biggest one in Mesoamerica, measuring 120 m x 30 m.

It has been created in the shape of the letter 'I', with a temple on the north side and another temple on the south side.

The stone rings, where a rubber ball would have gone through during a game, were decorated with intertwined feathered serpents.

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

The ballgame played here was quite different to those we are familiar with today – hands and feet could not touch the ball, so the ball was played back and forth between the teams with their hips, and maybe even their knees and elbows.

Ring at ballcourt at Chichen Itza (2018)British Museum

The rules of the game also changed depending on when and where it was played. The size of the ballcourts differed too!

Ballcourt at Chichen Itza (2015) by GMP teamBritish Museum

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