Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

On the Edge of the Cenote, at the Heart of the Mayan Civilization

Ball Game Wall
Group Ball Game
The Hoop-Basket
Double Kukulkan
Kukulkan to Double II
Kukulkan's Heads
The top of El Castilo
Chichen Itza Castle
Exceptional Descent
Balam Sculpture
mayan masks
colorful sculpture
cruel rituals
Triumphs of the Mayan Conquests
Herb facade
The Great Ball Game
Temple of Warriors
Between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries AD, Chichen Itza stood out as the most important city in the Yucatan Peninsula and the vast Mayan Empire. If the Spanish Conquest precipitated its decline and abandonment, modern history has consecrated its ruins a World Heritage Site and a Wonder of the World.

We walk along the tree-lined avenue that leads to the entrance.

One of the many Mayan craft vendors catches our eye. He painted a jaguar head that he fitted in his lap, against an Iron Maiden t-shirt. The delicacy with which he touched up the mottled feline's whiskers contrasted with the roughness of the band.

We stop to follow the work. We asked him if he's going to paint it yellow or leave it in black and white and, conversation leads to conversation, if he wore the t-shirt just for the sake of wearing it or if he was a real fan of the English group.

Carlos, as the artisan was called, assures us that he adored them. Enlightened, yet intrigued, we returned to the jaguar that, for good reason, appeared on the stands of almost all vendors, in shapes and tones that were not very different.

More than the animal itself, the sculptures represented Ek Balam, one of the idolized Mayan gods, a religious icon of incomparable martial bravery, inspiring an entire order of soldiers in the service of the emperor.

Ek Balam, one of the deities that ruled the Xibalba, the Mayan Underworld, was nonetheless worthy of a surface temple at Chichen Itza.

And, just 56 km to the northeast, 175 km from Yucatec capital Merida, consecrated with an entire village and ceremonial place of its contemporaries.

From Temple to Temple, behind the Enigmas of Chichen Itza

The Jaguar Temple is one of the first that we come across as soon as we enter Chichen Itza.

Long before we approach it, we get the impression that we are surrounded by felines. We hear roars. They sound too high-pitched to be real.

As we walk, we realize that, in addition to the myriad of sculptures they produce, the Mayans who trade there crafts, invented a toy that, when blown, imitated jaguars.

Bored by their routine, intent on arousing the curiosity of the visitors, they repeated the animal's roar over and over again.

We point east and towards the Kukulkan Temple, situated at the heart of the complex.

The Divine Supremacy of Kukulman – Quetzalcoatl

Kukulkan, the feathered serpent, was, for the Itza Mayans, the only god above the jaguar Ek Balam, the heart of the cult heavily influenced by that of Quetzalcoatl, long in force among the Aztecs of central Mexico.

They served as spiritual and mundane beacons to both civilizations and as unifiers against the ongoing threats of rival peoples and cities.

At Chichen Itza, Kukulkam was revered on the basis of the terraced pyramid that later the Spanish conquerors became accustomed to calling El Castillo.

When we appreciate it, successive guides try to prove to their customers a sound connection with Quetzalcoatl. “Listen carefully now” we hear them begging. Applause follows. The clapping echoes on the stones of the pyramid.

They produce a kind of screech that the guides guarantee is similar to the chirping of the quetzal, the bird revered by the peoples. Mexica and Central America, whose feathers the Mayans believed covered the Precious Serpent.

It was not the only prodigious effect that the Temple of Kukulkam generated. Who, like us, surrounds him, finds the serpent's double heads at his base.

Discover that the Mayans designed and built the pyramid so that each equinox of the year would make the Kukulkan descend from the top to the ground.

The Astronomical Dimensions of Chichen Itza

Those who have the privilege of visiting Chichen Itza on one of these dates, at the right time, watch the sun's rays fall on a tangent, which only illuminates the edge of the steps above. In such a way that it draws an almost perfect snake body.

The Mayans were serious scholars and followers of astronomy. They arranged the buildings of Chichen Itza and several of its cities according to intricate astronomical logic.

The fact that the Temple of Kukulkan has 365 steps and the observatory of Espaço El Caracol allows them to follow the path of Venus in the sky, will have helped them to calculate the way in which the sun was falling on the pyramid.

By mid-November, we had passed the autumnal equinox. We were far from Spring. We are satisfied, therefore, with imagining the phenomenon and its considered eccentricity. Only and only, from the base of the temple.

Until 2006, visitors could ascend to the top of El Castillo, where they could gain 360º views of the complex and the surrounding jungle.

The bounty has been suspended ad eternum when an 80-year-old California visitor collapsed, fell from a height of twenty meters and ended up succumbing.

The Bloodthirsty Rituals That Enforced Mayan Supremacy

Faith in the historical accuracy of “Apocalypto”, a film made that same year by Mel Gibson, the steps of the pyramid had already suffered the impacts of countless other victims.

In a scene from the feature film, set at the top of the temple, the high priest of Kukulkan rips the hearts of prisoners of war.

Then he cuts off their heads, thrown down the stairs, on a bloodthirsty Mayan people that the crudeness of the ceremony leads to ecstasy.

These and many other severed heads, resulting from battles and incursions into the territories of enemy peoples, ended up impaled one on top of the other, on high poles.

A few dozen meters from the Kukulkan Temple, we come across a platform decorated with engravings of skulls.

Called Tzompantli, it served as a memorial to the sacrificed, intimidating the population, which, at the same time, displayed the power and achievements of the supreme emperor of the Mayans.

Chichen Itza: The Enigmatic and Diffuse History of the Great Mayan Capital

Chichen Itza was founded between 750 and 900 AD At the end of the XNUMXth century, benefited by the decline of other cities in southern Yucatan, especially the allies. Cobá and Yaxuna and, for some time, an ally to the capital of western Yucatan, Uxmal, already controlled most of the peninsula, from the Gulf of Mexico to the eastern domains of Zamá, the Tulum of our days.

The criterion serves what it serves, but it still had the largest Ball Game field in the entire Maia and Azteca map of the Americas, with 168 by 70 meters.

This Ball Game remains a wide space between walls, in part grassed, in another part, of a clear earth beaten by the footsteps of the millions of annual visitors.

When we entered it, we found a few dozen, maybe twenty, lined up, absorbed in the explanations given by a guide, under one of the hoops where the Mayan players had to hit with a ball of rubber, with vigorous hip movements.

It is believed that two hundred years after its peak, around AD 1100, Chichen Itza entered its own decline. It thus favored the rise of another capital to the west, Mayapan.

The Mayan-Toltec Controversy Behind the Origin and History of Chichen Itza

It is estimated that the city will have been attacked and crowded. Some theorists hold that for the Toltecs of central Mexico with whom the Mayans had long traded.

Others are apologists that the Toltecs had integrated themselves among the Mayans, that these were, in fact, composed of members of the two ethnic groups.

This explains the architectural similarity of some of the buildings at Chichen Itza, especially the Temple of the Warriors, with others found in Tula, once the capital of the Toltecs.

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, Mayapan defeated Chichen Itza.

Decades later, the old capital was abandoned by its rulers and the elite that supported them, not necessarily by the entire population.

We go forward in time again. Two more centuries.

Two Generations of Franciscos Montejos and the Spanish Conquest of Yucatan

In 1526, Christopher Columbus had already revealed America. A succession of other navigators and conquerors set sail from southern Iberia intent on making their fortunes and claiming new lands for the Spanish Crown.

Two generations of Montejos, both Franciscos, were allowed to conquer the Yucatan Peninsula. In the middle of the XNUMXth century, after several setbacks, Francisco Montejo Filho managed to entice the Mayas of southwestern Yucatan to ally with his invading forces.

The army he formed proved overwhelming. He subdued the resisting Mayans.

The Spanish conquerors took possession of Yucatan, from the Caribbean coast to the opposite territory of Campeche. It won't take long, from all of present-day Mexico, Central and South America.

Chichen Itza disappeared into the History. Until the new explorers and scholars of the XNUMXth century rescued it from the Yucatec jungle.

Despite the long Hispanic imposition and devastation, the Mayans subsist in the domains formerly ruled by their city-states.

The Contemporary Mayan Relationship with Today's Chichen Itza

They returned to Chichen Itza. See the ruins now Wonder of the world as a World Heritage and divine legacy, a kind of sacred sustenance.

At the northeast end of the complex, between the Temple of Warriors and the market, the roars of the Balam jaguars continue. Another Mayan wonder catches our attention.

Basilio little or nothing allows himself to be disturbed. Thoughtful, calm, the middle-aged craftsman retouches his most recent sculpted painting, representing the Mayan Ball Game in different perspectives and moments.

We approach. We appreciated the painstaking work he did and what he had already finished and was looking forward to selling. Basilio understands. He accepts that, even if that was our wish, we could not pay him the almost 200 euros he was asking for one of the copies.

He resigns himself to a serenity and dignity only available to the wisest peoples.

There, with a smile on their lips, it proves how, even forced to share their lands and monuments, the Mayans continue to praise their civilization.

Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico

The Mayan Capital That Piled It Up To Collapse

The term Uxmal means built three times. In the long pre-Hispanic era of dispute in the Mayan world, the city had its heyday, corresponding to the top of the Pyramid of the Diviner at its heart. It will have been abandoned before the Spanish Conquest of the Yucatan. Its ruins are among the most intact on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Tulum, Mexico

The Most Caribbean of the Mayan Ruins

Built by the sea as an exceptional outpost decisive for the prosperity of the Mayan nation, Tulum was one of its last cities to succumb to Hispanic occupation. At the end of the XNUMXth century, its inhabitants abandoned it to time and to an impeccable coastline of the Yucatan peninsula.
Cobá to Pac Chen, Mexico

From the Ruins to the Mayan Homes

On the Yucatan Peninsula, the history of the second largest indigenous Mexican people is intertwined with their daily lives and merges with modernity. In Cobá, we went from the top of one of its ancient pyramids to the heart of a village of our times.
Mérida, Mexico

The Most Exuberant of Meridas

In 25 BC, the Romans founded Emerita Augusta, capital of Lusitania. The Spanish expansion generated three other Méridas in the world. Of the four, the Yucatan capital is the most colorful and lively, resplendent with Hispanic colonial heritage and multi-ethnic life.
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico

The Home Sweet Home of Mexican Social Conscience

Mayan, mestizo and Hispanic, Zapatista and tourist, country and cosmopolitan, San Cristobal has no hands to measure. In it, Mexican and expatriate backpacker visitors and political activists share a common ideological demand.
Izamal, Mexico

The Holy, Yellow and Beautiful Mexican City

Until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, Izamal was a center of worship for the supreme Mayan god Itzamná and Kinich Kakmó, the one of the sun. Gradually, the invaders razed the various pyramids of the natives. In its place, they built a large Franciscan convent and a prolific colonial houses, with the same solar tone in which the now Catholic city shines.
Yucatan, Mexico

The Sidereal Murphy's Law That Doomed the Dinosaurs

Scientists studying the crater caused by a meteorite impact 66 million years ago have come to a sweeping conclusion: it happened exactly over a section of the 13% of the Earth's surface susceptible to such devastation. It is a threshold zone on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula that a whim of the evolution of species allowed us to visit.
Yucatan, Mexico

The End of the End of the World

The announced day passed but the End of the World insisted on not arriving. In Central America, today's Mayans watched and put up with incredulity all the hysteria surrounding their calendar.
Campeche, Mexico

A Bingo so playful that you play with puppets

On Friday nights, a group of ladies occupy tables at Independencia Park and bet on trifles. The tiniest prizes come out to them in combinations of cats, hearts, comets, maracas and other icons.
Campeche, Mexico

Campeche Upon Can Pech

As was the case throughout Mexico, the conquerors arrived, saw and won. Can Pech, the Mayan village, had almost 40 inhabitants, palaces, pyramids and an exuberant urban architecture, but in 1540 there were less than 6 natives. Over the ruins, the Spaniards built Campeche, one of the most imposing colonial cities in the Americas.

Mexico City, Mexico

mexican soul

With more than 20 million inhabitants in a vast metropolitan area, this megalopolis marks, from its heart of zócalo, the spiritual pulse of a nation that has always been vulnerable and dramatic.

Champoton, Mexico

Rodeo Under Sombreros

Champoton, in Campeche, hosts a fair honored by the Virgén de La Concepción. O rodeo Mexican under local sombreros reveals the elegance and skill of the region's cowboys.
San Cristóbal de las Casas a Campeche, Mexico

A Relay of Faith

The Catholic equivalent of Our Lady of Fátima, Our Lady of Guadalupe moves and moves Mexico. Its faithful cross the country's roads, determined to bring the proof of their faith to the patroness of the Americas.
Campeche, Mexico

200 Years of Playing with Luck

At the end of the XNUMXth century, the peasants surrendered to a game introduced to cool the fever of cash cards. Today, played almost only for Abuelites, lottery little more than a fun place.
Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Chihuahua, Mexico

The Deep Mexico of the Barrancas del Cobre

Without warning, the Chihuahua highlands give way to endless ravines. Sixty million geological years have furrowed them and made them inhospitable. The Rarámuri indigenous people continue to call them home.
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
chihuahua, Mexico

¡Ay Chihuahua !

Mexicans have adapted this expression as one of their favorite manifestations of surprise. While we wander through the capital of the homonymous state of the Northwest, we often exclaim it.
Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

From New Spain Lode to Mexican Pueblo Mágico

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, it was one of the mining towns that guaranteed the most silver to the Spanish Crown. A century later, the silver had been devalued in such a way that Real de Catorce was abandoned. Its history and the peculiar scenarios filmed by Hollywood have made it one of the most precious villages in Mexico.
Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

The Depreciation of Silver that Led to that of the Pueblo (Part II)

With the turn of the XNUMXth century, the value of the precious metal hit bottom. From a prodigious town, Real de Catorce became a ghost. Still discovering, we explore the ruins of the mines at their origin and the charm of the Pueblo resurrected.
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Edward James' Mexican Delirium

In the rainforest of Xilitla, the restless mind of poet Edward James has twinned an eccentric home garden. Today, Xilitla is lauded as an Eden of the Surreal.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Prayer flags in Ghyaru, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana to Ngawal, Nepal

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Architecture & Design
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

Traveling through New Mexico, we were dazzled by the two versions of Taos, that of the indigenous adobe hamlet of Taos Pueblo, one of the towns of the USA inhabited for longer and continuously. And that of Taos city that the Spanish conquerors bequeathed to the Mexico: Mexico gave in to United States and that a creative community of native descendants and migrated artists enhance and continue to praise.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
Kente Festival Agotime, Ghana, gold
Ceremonies and Festivities
Kumasi to Kpetoe, Ghana

A Celebration-Trip of the Ghanian Fashion

After some time in the great Ghanaian capital ashanti we crossed the country to the border with Togo. The reasons for this long journey were the kente, a fabric so revered in Ghana that several tribal chiefs dedicate a sumptuous festival to it every year.
Registration Square, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Samarkand, Uzbequistan

A Monumental Legacy of the Silk Road

In Samarkand, cotton is the most traded commodity and Ladas and Chevrolets have replaced camels. Today, instead of caravans, Marco Polo would find Uzbekistan's worst drivers.
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Peasant woman, Majuli, Assam, India
Majuli Island, India

An Island in Countdown

Majuli is the largest river island in India and would still be one of the largest on Earth were it not for the erosion of the river Bramaputra that has been making it diminish for centuries. If, as feared, it is submerged within twenty years, more than an island, a truly mystical cultural and landscape stronghold of the Subcontinent will disappear.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
very coarse salt
Salta and Jujuy, Argentina

Through the Highlands of Deep Argentina

A tour through the provinces of Salta and Jujuy takes us to discover a country with no sign of the pampas. Vanished in the Andean vastness, these ends of the Northwest of Argentina have also been lost in time.
António do Remanso, Quilombola Marimbus Community, Lençóis, Chapada Diamantina
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

The Swampy Freedom of Quilombo do Remanso

Runaway slaves have survived for centuries around a wetland in Chapada Diamantina. Today, the quilombo of Remanso is a symbol of their union and resistance, but also of the exclusion to which they were voted.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Armenian Church, Sevanavank Peninsula, Lake Sevan, Armenia
lake sevan, Armenia

The Bittersweet Caucasus Lake

Enclosed between mountains at 1900 meters high, considered a natural and historical treasure of Armenia, Lake Sevan has never been treated as such. The level and quality of its water has deteriorated for decades and a recent invasion of algae drains the life that subsists in it.
Male Maldives

The Maldives For Real

Seen from the air, Malé, the capital of the Maldives, looks little more than a sample of a crammed island. Those who visit it will not find lying coconut trees, dream beaches, spas or infinite pools. Be dazzled by the genuine Maldivian everyday life that tourist brochures omit.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
Winter White
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.

icy blue planet

They form at high latitudes and/or altitudes. In Alaska or New Zealand, Argentina or Chile, rivers of ice are always stunning visions of an Earth as frigid as it is inhospitable.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Chã das Caldeiras to Mosteiros, Fogo Island, Cape Verde
Natural Parks
Chã das Caldeiras a Mosteiros, Fogo Island, Cape Verde

Chã das Caldeiras to Mosteiros: descent through the Ends of Fogo

With the Cape Verde summit conquered, we sleep and recover in Chã das Caldeiras, in communion with some of the lives at the mercy of the volcano. The next morning, we started the return to the capital São Filipe, 11 km down the road to Mosteiros.
Transpantaneira pantanal of Mato Grosso, capybara
UNESCO World Heritage
Mato Grosso Pantanal, Brazil

Transpantaneira, Pantanal, Mato Grosso Ends

We leave from the South American heart of Cuiabá to the southwest and towards Bolivia. At a certain point, the paved MT060 passes under a picturesque portal and the Transpantaneira. In an instant, the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso is flooded. It becomes a huge Pantanal.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde, Tarrafal Bay
Tarrafal, Santiago, Cape Verde

The Tarrafal of Freedom and Slow Life

The village of Tarrafal delimits a privileged corner of the island of Santiago, with its few white sand beaches. Those who are enchanted there find it even more difficult to understand the colonial atrocity of the neighboring prison camp.
Candia, Tooth of Buddha, Ceylon, lake
Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Dental Root of Sinhalese Buddhism

Located in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kandy became the capital of the last kingdom of old Ceylon and resisted successive colonial conquest attempts. The city also preserved and exhibited a sacred tooth of the Buddha and, thus, became Ceylon's Buddhist center.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
herd, foot-and-mouth disease, weak meat, colonia pellegrini, argentina
Daily life
Colónia Pellegrini, Argentina

When the Meat is Weak

The unmistakable flavor of Argentine beef is well known. But this wealth is more vulnerable than you think. The threat of foot-and-mouth disease, in particular, keeps authorities and growers afloat.
Fishing, Cano Negro, Costa Rica
Caño Negro, Costa Rica

A Life of Angling among the Wildlife

One of the most important wetlands in Costa Rica and the world, Caño Negro dazzles for its exuberant ecosystem. Not only. Remote, isolated by rivers, swamps and poor roads, its inhabitants have found in fishing a means on board to strengthen the bonds of their community.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.