Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

Chichén Itzá

Carretera Federal 180 Km. 120
+52 985 851 0137

More info

Sun - Sat 8am - 4:30pm

Chichén Itzá

A brilliant work of architecture and astronomy, the Pyramid of Kukulkán at Chichén Itzá is so precisely engineered that on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the sun casts shadows that slither like snakes and seem to descend the structure’s stairways. Said to represent the plumed-serpent deity Kukulkán, the shadows return to earth twice yearly to drink from sacred sinkholes known as cenotes. Today the phenomenon attracts thousands to the already crowded archaeological site, but almost-identical light-play can be seen the day before, alongside a mere fraction of the visitors.

More Recommendations

AFAR Local Expert
almost 8 years ago

See Maya Temples

What remains of ancient Maya civilization in the form of temples and other stone structures are impressive no matter what your age, and the Yucatan Peninsula has several such sites. The most famous of these is Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site that's approximately 120 miles from Cancun. It may be tempting to let your kids run around the ample grounds, but keep in mind, this is a sacred site. If you're desperate for your kids to burn off energy, better to visit Coba, which (for now, at least) permits climbing. Careful, though; those narrow steps are treacherous.
AFAR Local Expert
almost 8 years ago

Descent of the Feathered Serpent at Chichen-Itza

It was hot and humid, but it always seems to be hot and humid along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. I didn’t care, though; it was the spring equinox and I was there to see one of the most amazing archaeoastronomical phenomena in the world, the Descent of the Feathered Serpent. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and was built around the 9th century C.E. It is also one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations and was granted World Heritage status in 1988 by UNESCO. There are a lot of astronomical marvels at Chichen Itza, but one of the most exciting is the Descent of the Feathered Serpent. The central Pyramid of Kukulkan was built in such a way that, on the equinoxes, a shadow play is created where a serpent head statue transforms into a full creature through the shadows of the pyramid’s terraces. While the shadow effect began at 4:10, it took an hour for the full sight to be realized. Just as the sun hit a certain spot and immediately before the heat turned my brain to mush, I looked up and saw it. There it was: a massive snake descending the ancient pyramid. The head was a statue at the base of the pyramid’s stairs, and its back was comprised of seven triangles created through shadow, an engineering feat that boggles the mind. To see this amazing sight in person, plan your equinox trip well in advance, as people from around the world travel to the ancient pyramid for their own mystical encounter.
about 7 years ago

Chichen Itza and the Plumed Serpent

Well beyond the palmed coastline and Jaguar infested territories of the Yucatan lies the great Pyramid-Temple of Kukulkan, the "plumed serpent." Signs of Kukulkan can be found all over Chichen Itza. Whats magical about the architecture here is the intertwined nature that's been established with astronomical events. In one such case, on the Equinox, the pyramid is illuminated in a way to highlight the snaking form of Kukulkan within the shadows of the sun. That's just a little badass. Southern Mexico and the surrounding countries cannot be missed!

Chichen Itza, Mexico, Learning AFAR

We spent a day at Chichen Itza and visited the temples and courts nearby. The Mayan buildings were amazing and had so much detail to them. They were symmetrical and aligned to the stars and moons, but they were built in an age before computers. After sightseeing there were Mayan people selling handmade statues and traditional clothing. One recommendation I would make is to go early because it gets really hot and crowded later in the afternoons.

The Mysterious Ball Court of Chichen Itza, Learning AFAR

One of the most mysterious places in Chichen Itza is the Ball court. The great ball court of Chichen Itza is 545 feet long and 225 feet wide overall. At the end are two huge temples if you wait at one end and if you whisper into the wall, your words can be heard at the other end of the temple! This is possible because the sound waves travel by the wind. Until this day the archaeological secrets of the Ball court have not been explained. This site completes the tour of the Chichen Itza ruins, because of the open sunlight on the court, it is very easy to get sunburned so keep in mind to apply a lot of sunscreen and wear some sun shades and a sun hat! Learning AFAR, in partnership with Global Explorers, promotes cross-cultural exchange by sending students on trips to experience other parts of the world. Sponsorship assistance from the Pearson Foundation, Schlumberger, and Wimmer Solutions makes the trips possible. Donate at afar.com/foundation.
almost 8 years ago

Ruins Beyond Cancun

We had one day to chose an excursion outside of Cancun and no hesitation we went to Chichen-itza! It's the largest Mayan ruins on the Peninsula of Yucatan, and truly awe-inspiring. This place is so much fun if you are up for cultural sight-seeing. Everything is in these ruins: history, architecture, planning, myths. Make sure you get on a tour, this is the best way you will learn everything about the site-and this site is massive. It's definitely a good few hours, and easy to wandering among all the different ruins. If you are staying in Cancun and have one day for an excursion, this should be a must-do!
AFAR Traveler
almost 8 years ago

Top of the City

An archaeological site, Chichen Itza is a pre-Columbian city built by the Maya civilization. Visitors on the steps of El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulkan, are mesmerized by the beauty of their surroundings in this historic place.
AFAR Traveler
almost 8 years ago


The Temple of the Warriors is one of the most impressive structures at Chichen-itza. Its south and west sides are flanked by 200 round and square columns as seen here.
Original resort at pedregal.jpg?1484241854?ixlib=rails 0.3