Last Friday Michal and I took a road trip to the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza. The ruins date back to around 435 AD. It is recognized as a Maya ruin but in fact it was heavily influenced by the Toltec and Itza as well.
The architecture is impressive as well as just how big Chichen Itza was and is. Just when I thought we were done, we’d turn the corner and there’d be another path leading to another set of ruins.
I have to admit I found the experience a bit disturbing. Chichen Itza has the largest Ball Court. This court hosted games where a solid rubber ball was used and the players could only use their elbows, knees and hips to pass it through stone rings. When the game was over, a member of a team was sacrificed.
Just a few yards from the Ball Court was The Trzompantli which was a monument to war. The base of the platform is engraved with bas-relief skulls. The top of the platform was were the skulls of hundreds of enemies were displayed.
Next to this was the Platform of Eagles and Jaguars. There are carvings of eagles and jaguars devouring human hearts.
There is also a cenote – an open, natural well, (or sinkhole) on the premises. In the earlier days the Maya threw ceremonial offerings into the centoe to worship the water god. Later on, they began throwing humans – warriors, children and young woman – as sacrifices to the gods.
I try really hard not to be judgmental but I just can’t rationalize or understand human sacrifices. Human sacrifices aside, the architecture of Chichen Itza is stunning. It’s impressive to see how much remains after all these years. No wonder it’s a new wonder of the world!
When we left Chichen Itza we drove to a cenote that is in a cave. Cenotes are all over this area. The one we visited is one of the more “famous” ones. They do not makehuman sacrifices here, in fact you need to pay to enter. Swimming underwater in a cave was quite the experience! Rays of sunshine filtered down into the water from a small opening at the top. Schools of fish were easy to spot in the clear waters. Above, bats were flying in between the vines. I enjoyed floating on my back taking it all in.
We stopped in the town of Valladolid on our way back. Valladoild reminded us of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. We enjoyed eating delicious food, relaxing in the main square and visiting a leather shop.
If you come to this area, I highly suggest visiting Chichen Itza and the cenotes!