Kukulkan Pyramid and the ancient site of Chichen Itza
As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza remain one of the most visited archaeological grounds in the Yucatan.
The impressive archaeological site is located southeast of the city of Merida in the Yucatan state. During its prime, Chichen Itza was the most important economic, political and religious center for the Mayas. Due to its extraordinary features, the Kukulkan Mayan Pyramid, the main ancient Maya temple and once the center of the ancient city, became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The stepped Kukulkan pyramid, columned arcades, temples and other stone structures of the city were sacred to the Maya and remained a sophisticated urban center of their empire from A.D. 750 to 1200. When viewed as a whole, the massive complex reveals a lot about how the Toltec and Maya viewed the universe, most of which was tied to what was visible in the night skies along the Peninsula.
The most recognizable structure on the grounds is the Temple of Kukulkan, which is also known as El Castillo. This magnificent step pyramid shows the accuracy and importance of Maya astronomy. The temple consists of 365 steps, one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps and the top platform is the 365th step.
Twice a year, during the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow falls on the pyramid in the shape of a serpent. As the sun sets, the shadow of a shake makes its way down the steps where it eventually joins a stone serpent head at the base of the great staircase. It truly is an ancient wonder of the world!