Chichen Itzá Best Inside Info for Rentals and Tours to
The Ancient City of the Maya
Chichen Itzá is the ancient city of the Maya. Its history is fascinating and as a traveler myself, I recommend you experience it. But how to get there by car? What is there to see? and what Chichen Itzá tour tips can you take advantage of? Keep reading…
In August 2007, this city was selected as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Who chose? Voters around the world who in a public internet competition, that lasted for eight years, casted almost a 100 million votes according to the article The New World Wonders published by Hispanic Magazine in August 2008.
- The city was constructed with mathematical and geometrical precision.
- It boasts an impressive observatory, a necessary structure for the Maya, some of the best astronomers ever known to mankind.
- It has the biggest ball court in all Mesoamerica.
- It is home of the famous pyramid or El Castillo , and the Sacred Cenote which witnessed Mayan religious sacrifices.
- The name Chichen Itzá means At the mouth of the well of the Itza where Itza is the name of the ethnic group that dominated the northern Yucatan peninsula.
There are many more buildings in this ancient city that you should visit and they are located throughout the site. I just mentioned the most recognizable.
A Bit of History About Chichen Itzá
The Maya civilization built this UNESCO World Heritage site before 800 A.D., and it became an important economic, political, religious and cultural center of the Mayan empire.
Chichen Itzá is located in the northern area of the Peninsula de Yucatán in Mexico. The topography of the region is arid and has no above ground rivers. For the Ancient city of the Maya, the main source of fresh water was the cenotes or sinks holes that provided enough water for the inhabitants.
The most recognized sink hole is the cenote Sagrado or the sacred well. The region has many cenotes and you can see signs throughout when you drive towards the ancient city using the Carretera Libre.
This ancient city used its port site of Isla Cerritos to obtain locally unavailable resources from distant areas such as central Mexico and even gold from Central America.
Chichen Itzá fell by around 1000 AD and the city became unpopulated but not completely abandoned. The Cenote Sagrado continued to be a place of pilgrimage.
According to Robert S. Chamberlain’s book, The Conquest and Colonization of Yucatán 1517-1550, the Spaniards arrived at Chichen Itzá in 1526 trying to take the city with Francisco Montejo leading the operation. Initially the Spaniards encountered no resistance. Later on, the Maya pushed them out in 1534.
What Not to Miss
The main place of worship of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. The pyramid is the most representative place of the ruins. It is impressive and inviting at the same time.
The temple has 9 square terraces, about 2.57 metres (8.4 ft) high, and at the top it is the temple. The sides of the pyramid are approximately 55.3 meters (181 ft) at the base. One tf the most interesting features of the pyramid are the stairways each side has, and of course, the carved heads of a serpent at the northeastern side.
Today you can’t climb the pyramid, after a tragic death of a woman while making her way down from the top, but it still is a site worth visiting!
The significance of the cenote is based on several stories. The one that fascinated me the most is the tale of a young man who dared the Mayan king to accept his challenge of letting him dive into the water well, and if he survived he was to become the Mayan king. The possibilities were null, and the king accepted, the you
ng man dove and came out alive! The throne exchanged hands.
Round shaped and perfectly located to observe Venus. In the inside you can see a stairwell that leads to the top. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to go inside.
At the top, sky observers were able to remove some stones to have the perfect angle for their astronomy studies.
A place where the Maya played their ball game by passing a ball through the sculpted hoops at the top of the court without using their hands.
Good luck! You had to be skillful because the price to pay was your head if you didn’t win. Take a look at the walls of the ball court panels.
Finding the Best Hotel, Rental Villa or B&B
Part of the experience of visiting the ruins is seeing the sites surrounding the ancient city.
Some people are afraid to stay outside of a resort because they don’t know the language or the areas. I recommend you to educate yourself. Be close to main towns that have resorts if you just want to experience the real Mexico without having to stay in one.
Read more about finding a perfect hotel close to Chichen Itzá. If you are interested in having a real Mexican experience think about renting a villa, home or hacienda. It is affordable, luxurious and convenient.
Keep in mind you have to cook, but the difference in price in comparison to an all inclusive resort will allow you to stay longer and more comfortably if you are a family of 4 or more. Go to the listing of Chichen Itza rentals so you can make the right choice!
Chichen Itzá Tours
There are many companies that offer tour services to tourists who stay in the Riviera Maya hotels.
Top recommendation? Cosmos Tours. Well planned, comfortable transportation and educational.
For us, having a native Spanish speaker in the family, me, and pretty much being accustomed to travel at our own speed we decided to tour the city ourselves.
On the other hand, it is very convenient to pre-book your tour. No worries, no delays, and no guess work. You can do it from home and it will all be set when you arrive.
Visit these forums for real comments and points of view about different Chichen Itza tours.
BEST Tours Beside Chichen Itzá Mayan Ruins
Keep an open mind, since the only thing in the Yucatan peninsula is not just visiting ruins. There are many options like horse back riding, scuba diving, other ruins besides Chichen, and canopy expeditions that are lots of fun!
the best Yucatan Peninsula tours with ratings, maps, direct linking to sites and all the relevant information to make your trip smooth.
Top Recommended Tours
Selvatica Canopy Expeditions and Adventure Tour. A perfect canopy adventure.
Rancho Baaxal.The Best horse back riding in Playa del Carmen.
Casa del Buceo. Best scuba diving in Isla Mujeres, close to Cancun.
Jungle Spa. Wanting to pamper yourself? Take a massage in an incredible setting!
When visiting The Ancient City of the Maya I recommend being adventurous. Take the Carretera Libre which means free or without any tolls. We did it and never regretted it.
We rented a car and traveled the Carretera Libre with our 3-year old son who loved seeing how different the towns look in comparison to the ones in the U.S. we lived at the time in Long Island, NY.
There are some small towns and many cenotes on the way where you can swim and enjoy.
Stop at stores on the side of the road. They have the beautifully hand crafted articles at at about 30% less than those offered at the boutiques in the resorts.
I was surprised to see how many people were bilingual Spanish and Maya, the ancient language of the Mayan civilization.