Chichen Itza is a designated World Heritage Site and a New Seven Wonders of the World, making it by far one of the most famous and popular Maya sites in Mexico. The large complex was an important center of the Mayan World and its stature is reflected in the beautiful temples and architecture found throughout the site.
The star attraction of Chichen Izta is Temple of Kukulkan, also called El Castillo. Each of the large step pyramid’s four sides has 91 steps which, when added together and including the temple platform on top as the final step, makes a grand total of 365 steps. Designing the pyramid as a giant symbolic calendar shows how important measuring time and days was to the Mayan people.
The best time for travelers to visit Chichen Itza is during the spring or fall equinox, when thousands gather to witness an amazing play of light and shadow on the steps of El Castillo pyramid.
During this time of year, at about 3:30PM, the afternoon sunlight shines on the western side of the El Castillo pyramid’s main stairway causing triangles to form and creating the shadow body of a snake that creeps downwards until it joins a huge serpent’s head at the bottom of the stairway. The shadow of the snake is said to represent the ancient serpent, Kukulkan, making his way to Chichen Itza’s sacrificial cenote located metres away from the temple.
Four Tips for a Safe and Fun Girls’ Getaway to Chichen Itza
Be sure to drink lots of water during your visit, the site is punishingly hot from midday until late afternoon. A sun parasol or pretty straw hat is a must! Also pack a cover up, a blistering sunburn is the last thing you’ll want to bring back from Chichen Itza.
Wear comfy shoes, Chichen is a big site and you’ll be covering a lot of ground, this is not the place to show off your new high heel sandals!
The site is stuffed to the brim with vendors, remember most of the items are made for the tourista and you won’t be getting any kind of quality handicrafts. If something does catch your eye, be sure to have pesos available, vendors onsite will not be accepting credit cards or changing currency. Be prepared to bargain!
Top tip: The snake shadow is visible for about a week on either side of the equinoxes, plan your visit during this time, instead of the 20th, and you’ll enjoy smaller crowds and a better view.
A special thank you to the Mexican Tourism Bureau for inviting us to experience Mundo Maya in Mexico. Also sending thanks and gratitude to archaeologists Julia Miller and Alfonso Morales of CatherwoodTravels for sharing your expert knowledge of Maya culture during our tours of Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum.