Chichen Itza facts

Chichen Itza is an ancient Mayan city and is the most famous archaeological and historical site in Mexico, with more than 2 million visitors yearly

The site is famous for its uniquely preserved ruins of the city of the Mayan civilization. 

There are plenty of Chichen Itza facts that will leave the visitors speechless. 

Various fascinating Chichen Itza facts can help visitors understand the significance of the site and Mayan Civilization. 

This article will briefly explain the location, the map of Chichen Itza, and other exciting facts about Chichen Itza.

Understand this site through fascinating trivia and interesting Chichen Itza facts so that you, too, can appreciate the various structures of the site better.

History of Chichen Itza

There are plenty of fun facts about Chichen Itza as the history of Chichen Itza goes as far back as the 6th Century AD. 

It is an archaeological site and an ancient religious and political ceremonial city of the Mayans, built in the 6th Century AD.

It peaked its power and prosperity in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. 

The Mayans were famous for their astronomical and mathematical brilliance, and sites like Chichen Itza reflect it in their design.

The city was a vital trading hub and religious and cultural center. 

At one point, it had more than 50,000 people, including artisans and scholars. 

Its inhabitants eventually abandoned Chichen Itza in the 13th century AD for unknown reasons.

Experts speculate that frequent droughts, exhausted soil and a royal quest for conquest and treasures caused its decline.

Chichen Itza was later rediscovered in 1841 by two explorers, John Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. 

The pyramid of Chichen Itza became famous after they documented their travel through these ruins in their book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. 

With so much history behind this site, visitors are highly recommended to go for the guided tours of Chichen Itza and a self-guided audio-narrated map

These types of Chichen Itza tours will help visitors get the most out of their visit.

The Audio narrated map tour will help you learn Chichen Itza facts and explore the site at your own pace. 

You can also get skip-the-line tickets, dodge the crowds and step back into time in this fascinating ancient city.

Where is Chichen Itza? 

Chichen Itza is deep within the jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It is in the eastern portion of the Yucatan State of Mexico. 

The site of Chichen Itza is large, spreading over approximately 6 square kilometers (2.3 square miles). 

The distance from Cancun to Chichen Itza is almost 100 miles (160 kilometers). Thus, getting to Chichen Itza can be tricky.

You can book a transfer Chichen Itza tour from Cancun to make this journey easier.

Merida is the closest big city to Chichen Itza, almost half the distance from Chichen Itza compared to Cancun, only 50 miles (80 kilometers).

A transfer ticket to Chichen Itza from Merida is available, which you can book to make your tour hassle-free. 

Other popular places near Chichen Itza are Tulum and Playa del Carmen

Chichen Itza map

Given that Chichen Itza is an ancient political and religious city where more than 50,000 people once lived, it is no surprise the site spreads over a massive area. 

Chichen Itza has several zones, each with its ruins and attractions. Thus, deciding the adequate time to explore every attraction within the ruins becomes difficult.

You can identify the 5 more significant sites on this Chichen Itza map.

Many other areas nearby Chichen Itza, such as the colonial city Valladolid and the Coba archaeological site, are worth exploring. They add to the overall Mayan experience.

You can also get a combo Chichen Itza ticket to explore them. 

The Great Plaza

It is in the central area of Chichen Itza, also called El Castillo or the Pyramid of Kukulkan. 

It is the home to the temple of Kukulkan, the Mayan feathered god. The temple is Pyramid-shaped. 

One of the Astonishing Chichen Itza facts is how the temple showcases Mayan expertise in astronomy and mathematics. 

The pyramid has four sides, each with 91 steps, totaling 364, and if you count the top platform of the temple, it will equal 365, the total number of days in a solar year. 

During the spring and fall equinox, the sun casts a shadow, creating an illusion on the temple steps like a serpent descending. 

The temple is undoubtedly the highlight of Chichen Itza; it has intricate hieroglyphs that will intrigue you to know more and explore more. 

The temple looks even more exquisite when illuminated with different lights at night. 

You can book a private tour of Chichen Itza at night to witness this and Chichen Itza’s light show

The Ball Court 

Ball Court
Image: Inmexico.com

It is right next to the Great Plaza. One of the Fascinating Chichen Ball Court facts is it is the largest Mesoamerican ballcourt. 

The court has an “I” shape. It has parallel walls about 100 meters long. 

At the end of the court are the stone rings used to score points. The Mayans used a rubber ball to play their game here. 

The ball game was an essential part of Mayan culture and used to form an integral part of their religious ceremonies and sporting events. 

Know more about what to expect at the Great Ball court.

The Temple of the Warriors 

The Temple of Warriors is one of the three Great North platforms. It owes its name to the row of carved stone warriors lining the temple’s front. 

This temple appears like a pyramid with four sides; it has a staircase leading to the top.  

Experts speculate that Mayans used the temple of Warriors for ceremonial purposes. Learn about the Temple of Warrior Chichen Itza facts with an excellent guided tour.

The Coba archaeological site features Mayan ruins and the tallest pyramid made by them. 

Simply book a multiple attraction Chichen Itza trip to visit and climb this extraordinary piece of architecture. 

If you want to know more, look at the Temple of Warriors section.

The Observatory or El Caracol

The Observatory, or “El Caracol,” is west of the Great Plaza. It is a circular building that the Mayans used to study the stars and celestial bodies. 

El Caracol means “snail” in Spanish due to its spiral staircase inside the structure.

The El Caracol Chichen Itza has a circular hole in the roof that aligns with the position of the Sun and the Moon to track them. 

Mayans used this special place of El Caracol to predict celestial events such as eclipses. 

Here’s what to expect at the El Caracol of Chichen Itza.

The Sacred Cenote 

The sacred cenote of Chichen Itza is a natural sinkhole located north of the Great Plaza. The Mayans primarily used the Sacred Cenote for ceremonial purposes. 

The Mayans have a deep connection with the Cenote as they considered it a place where the gods communicated with the people. 

It is a spot with many fascinating stories you can learn about through a guided tour or an audio-narration tour of Chichen Itza

You can take a dip in this fantastic freshwater sinkhole with outdoor sports Cenote spring Chichen Itza tickets

Another great option is the Ik-kil cenote to refresh your mind and add a bit of adventure to your visit. 

Know more about the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza Equinox

Chichen Itza doesn’t only have numerous fascinating stories within but hosts multiple special events at the site throughout the year as well. 

Chichen Itza Equinox or the Snake Shadow at Chichen Itza is a phenomenon that occurs at the temple of Kukulkan or the Great Temple, aka El Castillo

During the spring and fall equinox, the sun’s rays cast a shadow on the pyramid Steps, making it look like the shape of the serpent descending from the steps. 

This day is one of the busiest of the year, so if you want to dodge the crowd, you can read the best time to visit Chichen Itza for more details. 

Know more about what to expect at Chichen Itza.


What do I need to know about Chichen Itza?

Learn about the various Chichen Itza tickets, such as the Combo tickets, tours and trips. 
Beyond this, know how to go to Chichen Itza, its opening hours, and the best time to visit. 

What are 5 interesting facts about Chichen Itza?

The top 5 facts about Chichen Itza are:

– It was rediscovered in 1841 by John Stephens and Fredrick Catherwood.
– The presence of two smaller pyramids at Chichen Itza inside the bigger Pyramid, the Temple of Kukulkan 
– The main temple at the center of Chichen Itza has 365 steps, reflecting the total number of days in a solar year. 
– Chichen Itza was built in the 6th C and peaked in the 10th and 11th C. 
– Chichen Itza snake shadow show creates an illusion on temple steps similar to a serpent descending down during the equinox. 

What is mysterious about Chichen Itza?

There are many mysterious facts about Chichen Itza. Among the top few is the presence of a cenote under the Kukulkan pyramid. 

The bigger Pyramid at Chichen Itza has two smaller pyramids inside it. 

The sacred cenote forms a perennial point of attraction for all visitors and is a point of intrigue due to the various ceremonial objects at the bottom. 

You can pick a cenote adventure ticket to explore this better. 

What should I bring to Chichen Itza?

The first and most crucial thing is to bring either a soft copy or a hard copy of the Chichen Itza tickets. 

Wearing comfortable clothes and a comfy pair of shoes for walking is recommended. 

Bring a bucket hat and sunblock to dodge the sun and its harsh rays. You should carry a water bottle with you. 

What are the tips you need to know before visiting Chichén Itzá?

Here is a list of the top 9 tips that you should know:

– You should purchase Chichen Itza Skip the Line tickets to avoid crowds at the entrance. 
– On Sunday, the Mexican nationals get free access; thus, it is the most crowded that day. 
– You can visit this enchanting site at night and experience a different side of Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza opening hours are from 8 am to 5 pm. 
– Due to optimal weather, the best time to visit Chichen Itza is between November and March. 
– Used the transfer tickets from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Merida, and more to reach Chichen Itza and avoid travel-related hassles. 
– Utilize the combo Chichen Itza tickets to explore more with one ticket. 
– Don’t forget to explore the Cenote. You can’t, however, bring a tripod to Chichen Itza. 
– Lastly, for adventure seekers, there are multiple adventure activities around Chichen Itza. 
– Plan your visit way in advance to catch the Special Event of Snake Shadow. 

What are the 10 things to see in Chichen Itza?

Here is a list of the top 10 things you must see in Chichen Itza

– El Castillo 
– The Ball Court
– The Temple of Warriors
– The Observatory or El Caracol
– The Sacred Cenote 
– La Iglesia 
– Casa Colorado
– Temple of Bearded Man 
– Tomb of High Priest 
– Temple of the Skulls

Naturally, given how big the site is, you should opt for either a guided or self-guided Chichen Itza ticket

Featured Image: MariaQuintian / Getty Images

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