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Mexico’s Chichen Itza Ruins: 6 Fascinating Facts

Updated on February 24, 2012

Chichen Itza is a Mayan Ruins site in Mexico. Due to its impressive size and convenient location only 37 minutes from the Yucatan capitol Merida and a couple of hours by bus from Cancun, Chichen Itza is the Yucatan's most popular ruins site- and it is most certainly worth a visit!

Are you planning on seeing these ruins soon? Why not wow your friends with some fun Chichen Itza trivia while you're there? Here are six fun facts about this mysterious, fantastical place.

1. Chichen Itza is a world class ruins site

Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the second-most popular archaeological site in all of Mexico.

2. Chichen Itza's temples have facilitated death- more recently than you might think!

In 2006, a woman fell to her death while climbing the ruins of El Castillo, which has since been closed to human traffic. This closure is part of a general trend throughout the site of cutting off access to the actual buildings, temples, and monuments.

3. Chichen Itza is famous for a springtime serpant

On the day of the spring equinox, the light of the sun creates a shadow effect on the Temple of Kukulcan that resembles a climbing snake. Thousands of tourists visit Chichen Itza every year to view this impressive show.

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4. Chichen Itza has some amazing acoustic features

Many sites are known for strange acoustic features, and Chichen Itza may be counted among the best of the best. A hand clap in front of El Castillo’s staircase returns an echo that supposedly resembles Quitzalcoatl’s chrip (Quitzalcoatl, for the uninformed, is the feathered serpent deity).

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Beware the feathered serpant!Fun visiting fact: you will need to buy two tickets before entering. One from the state, one from the federal government!Tic tac toe, anyone?
Beware the feathered serpant!
Beware the feathered serpant!
Fun visiting fact: you will need to buy two tickets before entering. One from the state, one from the federal government!
Fun visiting fact: you will need to buy two tickets before entering. One from the state, one from the federal government!
Tic tac toe, anyone?
Tic tac toe, anyone?

5. Chichen Itza has some GREAT human sacrifice stories

It is generally understood that human sacrifices were thrown into the Cenote Sagrado (the Sacred Cenote) that provided water to the city of Chichen Itza. Legend had it that if a human sacrifice were to survive being thrown into the recessed sink hole (which is 27 meters or 89 feet below ground level), he would gain the power of prophesy.

With this in mind, the Mayapan ruler Hunac Ceel jumped into the cenote, survived, and prophesied his own ascension to power. Did he really gain the power of foresight? Maybe. He did, after all, conquer the city!

6. Chichen Itza's roadways reveal its importance

Sacbeob is the word used for the raised roads that connect different ancient Mayan cities and towns. They’re the highways of the Mayan empire, so the more there are leading from the city, the more important one may infer that the city was! Chichen Itza has nearly 100 sacbeob cris-crossing the site and extending into the surrounding jungle. That’s no small amount!

Chichen Itza:
Chichen-itza, Yucatán, Mexico

get directions

Chichen Itza is easily accessible via the federal highway- driving there is a cinch, but you can also hop on one of many chartered bus tours.


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