Chichen Itza is a Mayan City on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It was established hundreds of years before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and most likely served as the religious center of the Yucatan.
Today it is the second most visited site of Mexico and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The ruins include the Kukulkan pyramid which is also known as “El Castillo” (the castle).
The Maya originated around 3,000 years ago in present-day Central America and Mexico. The Mayan empire flourished in the southern regions from around 250 AD to 900 AD. The empire in the south collapsed around 900 AD, but the northern Maya thrived until the Spanish conquests of the 16th century AD.
The Maya were skilled farmers and created a sophisticated written language. They also carried on trade throughout a network of cities that went as far south as Panama and as far north as Central Mexico. They developed a number system which included the concept of zero and used their mathematical knowledge along with celestial observations to develop a sophisticated calendar and to create monuments to observe and commemorate movements of the moon, the sun, and Venus. Several of these monuments can still be seen at Chichen Itza today.
In the summer of 2008, we visited Chichen Itza. You can view a short video tour we created for Eye On Literature.