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Top Temples of Chichen Itza

Updated on December 30, 2009

Recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is one of the most important Mayan sites in the world. Located in the state of Yucatan in Mexico, the site is spread over around six square miles. While many of the structures have collapsed over the centuries, the ruins and buildings still standing, particularly the temples, offer a tantalizing glimpse into the Mayan culture.

Kulkulcan

The Temple of Kulkulcan

 Easily the most recognizable of Chichen Itza's temples is the large pyramid known as El Castillo, or the Temple of Kulkulcan.  Four staircases rise up the sides of the pyramid to the temple at its summit. While the temple is fascinating at any time, hundreds visit at the Spring and Autumn equinoxes to observe a unique visual effect.  On those two days, over the space of about five hours, a shadow resembling a snake slithers its way down the side of the pyramid until it reaches the serpent's head at the pyramid's base.  The shadow is said to represent Kulkulcan, the feathered serpent.  Please watch the video below to learn more about this phenomenon.

Snake Slithering Down Kulkulkan

Temple of the Warriors

The Temple of Warriors is best known for its rows of columns carved with images of warriors.

Temple of the Bearded Man

Located at the north end of the great ball court, where Mayans once gathered to enjoy sporting matches, this temple takes its name from a carving of a man with a beard, located inside.

Temples of the Jaguar

 Also located at the Great Ball Court are the Temples of the Jaguar, made up of the Upper Temple and the Lower Temple.  These are known for their intricate murals and carvings as well as a throne shaped like a jaguar.

Temple of the Tables

This temple is named for the several altars.

Other Temples

 Other notable temples include:

Temple of Xtoloc

High Priests' Temple

Temple of the Carved Columns

 

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