Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: Dominating the center of Chichen is the
Temple of Kukulkan (the Maya name for Quetzalcoatl), often referred to as "El
Castillo" (the castle). This step pyramid has a ground plan of square terraces
with stairways up each of the 4 sides to the temple on top. On the Spring and
Autumn equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the
structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or
Quetzalcoatl - along the west side of the north staircase. On these two days,
the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid
with the sun's movement to the serpent's head at the base. Visit Chichen
Itza Yucatan one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”
The Mayan city of Chichen Itza, located in the Mexican state of
Yucatan, was chosen as one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”
by approximately 100 million people around the globe, who cast their
ballots by phone and Internet.
“The selection of Chichen Itza is recognition of the extremely vast
and ancient historical and cultural heritage of Mexico, of which
very few countries in the world can boast”.
The announcement of Chichen Itza’s selection by the New7Wonders
Foundation was made during a spectacular ceremony at Lisbon’s
Stadium of Light.
The archaeological center of Chichen Itza, the most important Maya
capital at the end of the classic period (750 to 1200 A.D.), was
declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Chichen Itza, which in the Mayan language means “at the mouth of the
well of the Itza,” was one of the most important Mayan political,
commercial and religious centers of the classic period, but it fell
into decline after the emergence of Mayapan as the new focal point
of regional power in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The city is home to several buildings that are remarkable both for
their architectural design and their religious and scientific
significance. Among these are the Temple of Kukulkan (Feathered
Serpent), the Observatory, the Temple of the Warriors and the Sacred
Cenote (Well of Sacrifice).
The Temple of Kukulkan, one of the tallest and most notable
structures in Mayan architecture sits on a 55.5-meter wide
rectangular platform and rises to a height of 24 meters. Each of its
four sides has 91 steps and the platform that crowns the pyramid is
considered the 365th step, meaning there is one for each day of the
During the spring and fall equinox (March and September), visitors
can enjoy a breathtaking spectacle: a corner of the Temple of
Kukulkan casts a shadow in the shape of a giant “feathered serpent”
that appears to slither its way down the side of the North staircase
with the sun’s movement. This natural phenomenon of light and shadow
is a unique experience that attracts visitors from all parts of the
The Observatory, also known as “El Caracol” (The Snail) for its
stone spiral interior staircase, is a cylindrical building with a
dome that was used as an astronomical observatory, with its doors
aligned to view the spring equinox, the declinations of the Moon and
other astronomical events that helped determine the complex but
extremely exact Mayan calendar.
Other popular sites at Chichen Itza are the Great Ballcourt – which,
measuring 168 meters long and 70 meters wide, is the largest that
has been discovered in the region known as Mesoamerica – and the
Sacred Cenote, a large sinkhole 60 meters in diameter from which
great treasures have been recovered: rings, necklaces and objects of
gold and jade.
Thanks to all the people who voted, Chichen Itza today is a new
wonder of the world, considered an icon of universal importance for
humanity. As a result of this global and democratic selection
process, the world will know Mexico for one of its 173
archaeological jewels, tangible evidence of the plurality and ethnic
richness of the country’s past.
They invite the world to visit and enjoy this impressive treasure, a
symbol of the archaeological wealth of the Mayan world.
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