Friday, August 28, 2009

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was a major regional focal point in the northern Maya lowlands from the Late Classic through the Terminal Classic and into the early portion of the Early Postclassic period. The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, from what is called “Mexicanized” and reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico to the Puuc style found among the Puuc Maya of the northern lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion.

Recently voted as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, the ruins of Chichen Itza lie about midway between Cancun and Merida, so that the journey from each city takes around 2 or 3 hours via the toll highway. It is possible to see the main structures on a day trip from Cancun, and many tour buses do just this resulting in a large influx of visitors around 10-11am.

Chichen Itza is the most visited site in the Yucat√°n and it can get very crowded here, so if at all possible try to arrive soon after the 8am opening. This will give you time to explore the site before it gets too hot. Alternatively, leave your visit until later in the day and stay overnight nearer the site, returning in the early morning. Ideally, you will need two days for a good understanding of the site, which covers 4 square miles.

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