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    The Mystery of Chichen Itza

    Originated 3,000 years ago, the Maya civilisation flourished until 900 AD, when the Maya people from the South disappeared for some unknown reason. No one knows why they ceased to exist, it remains a mystery till this day. While the northern Maya country thrived until the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas, the southern empire was already gone. The time of its collapse corresponds to the time when the last buildings of Chichen Itza were erected...Today, Chichen Itza, hidden deep in the forest on the Yukatan Peninsula, is the second most popular tourist site in Mexico.

    Established in the fifth century, it is the best preserved Mayan city. Besides being listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, its Kukulkan Pyramid has become one of 'The New 7 Wonders of the World'.The name of the city, Chichen Itza, translates as 'At the mouth of the well of the Itza'. There are two natural sink holes in the city, which provided water and served as religious ritual sites. The Maya sacrificed objects and human beings to the well to worship their rain god Chaac. Cenote Sagrado, the main well, can still be visited today.

    We all know the Maya Calendar, but did you know that they played football? The Great Ballcourt of Chichen Itza is 225 feet wide and 545 feet long; the football games took place as a part of the harvest rituals. If you stand at one end of the court and say a word, it will be heard at the other end of the pre-Columbian football pitch. The sound travel effect in this place is an architectonic riddle of the Maya civilisation.

    The Kukulkan Pyramid, the main attraction in the ancient city, counts 91 steps on each side and is 75 feet tall. If we count the platform under the temple as a step, the pyramid has 365 steps - which is exactly the number of days in a year. At the time of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, at about 3pm, the sun shades create triangle forms that resemble the form of a serpent sliding down the pyramid stairs, 37 yards long. At the bottom, it reaches a large serpent head carved in a stone. Every year, people from all over the world gather at the foot of Kukulkan Pyramid to watch the equinox spectacle.

    The Temple of the Warriors is a large complex, where in the front of the pyramid, rows of columns symbolise standing warriors. On top of the pyramid, the Chac Mool statue overlooks the area. According to Mayan beliefs, Chac Mool was a messenger who delivered sacrifices to the gods. The statue depicts a figure resting on its elbows with a kind of tray on its stomach, where sacrifice objects were placed.

    The Maya created their own calendar as well as the mathematical, astronomical and writing systems. We know they had sophisticated methods of agriculture, played football and had an extensive mythology. What remains today are the ancient cities. Chichen Itza is an inspiring place, where the past is still present and the images of Mayan beliefs are vivid in its architecture.

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