If you’re traveling to Mexico, you’ll want to experience the astonishing culture, architecture and history of the Mayan Empire. The Mayan ruins breathe a phenomenal moment in history that ceaselessly intrigues scientists, historians and philosophers across the world. Today, I’ll take you on my journey to Chichen Itza, the archaeological destination known for its 10th century impact. There is a plethora of ruins throughout the country, so take advantage of the local tours and take in more than just sand and sun on your vacation.
We arranged a Chichen Itza tour experience through the JW Marriott’s onsite Hotel Beds service. For $94, this full day trip to Yucatan included a guided tour on a comfortable charter bus with food, beverages, and plenty of tequila.
We were extremely lucky to have Sergio as our tour guide, who was full of fascinating facts on every place, item and piece of history we came across throughout the day. His knowledge as a professor definitely glowed as he provided answers to any of the group members’ questions. He was animated, kept us fed, safe and entertained throughout the bus ride there and back.
Along the way, we stopped at the city of Merida and were able to walk around and learn a little about their famous “sillas tu y yo” lovers chairs and visit with local vendors outside the city’s church and central square area.
Our grand lunch stop was a little over halfway to Chichen Itza at the Zaci restaurante and cenote, a Mayan Village in Valladolid.
This was a great place full of history, real obsidian souvenirs, and actual shaman who blessed us one by one.
We were given a fair amount of time to explore the grounds and visit the onsite tequila museum where you could sample several varieties.We ate at an authentic Mexican buffet, accompanied by delicious margaritas. Performers danced around our tables as we ate, giving us a true taste of the culture.
After lunch we had enough time to adventure down into the beautiful underground cenote (sink hole), where you are allowed to swim.
Finally we reached our main attraction – Chichen Itza. Sergio walked us around the entire grounds, teaching us every little bit of Mayan history, culture and behaviors of the civilization.
The main Pyramid of Kukulkan is beautiful, like an Egyptian pyramid amidst a vacant stone civilization, yet still surrounded by depths of the forest.
Among all the massive structures and temples, you can feel that a civilization was once thriving here, an eerie and exciting sensation. We learned little oddities such as human sacrifices, how they physically changed the bodies of high class children, and how the temple and Mayan calendar connected with time, light and space in fascinating ways. One such example was the practice of cranial deformation, beginning in infancy. This was thought to signify a higher social stance in the community. Evidence of this was reflected in the ruins’ carvings.
Though the steps of the main temple are now closed off to climb because of past vandalizing, we were still able to get directly at the foot of the pyramid and experience the beauty of looking up its steps. You could hear the echoes and voices move across the grounds, which is how the Mayans designed the temple to carry the sound and communicate.
You could spend hours wandering the grounds at Chichen Itza, absorbing all the views, carvings and bits of the past.
There are so many facts, information, and theories surrounding the archaeological sites making you wonder how ahead the civilization was in its knowledge of scientific theories and evidence.
The site in itself is a beautiful collection of history that continues to live on, even in the advanced world we live in today.
All photos are by Sarah Guiler.
Want more information on Cancun? Check out my story on staying at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort here. Here is a list of more archaeological cities, given to me by the concierge: