I have always been an aspiring traveler. With many future destinations on my bucket list, it is nonetheless a lifetime goal to visit the seven wonders of the modern world (not to leave out the last remaining ancient world wonder that is the Pyramids of Giza). Since my world history semester project in high school, I’ve been fascinated by the seven chosen sites that represent humanity’s finest architectural accomplishments. Being on the Yucatan Peninsula, I had the chance to visit the first of seven. I didn’t really know what Chichen-Itza was all about, but I was determined to find out.
If you’ve ever vacationed to this region of Mexico, you probably already know that getting to Chichen Itza is very easy. Every resort and hotel all the way up to Cancun offers excursions and day-trips to the site. With so many options available (both through your hotel or through companies at tourist complexes) it’s not hard to discover the cheapest way to get to the site. The beach-y, “spring break” areas of Mexico are at least a two hour drive from the site, so getting a ride to this UBESCO World Heritage Site should be planned for an entire day. Even if ruins don’t excite you immediately, there is much more to see than you might initially anticipate.
El Castillo is the centerpiece of this amazing Mayan city. Not only does the pyramid look cool, but there are many architectural secrets to the structure. First off, the structure represents the Mayan calendar, that each side has 90 steps (one side has 91) to represent each day of the year and the time elapsed between equinoxes. The pyramid is very ingeniously angled so that a natural phenomenon occurs during each equinox of the year. Thousands of people come to watch the phenomenon that is an illuminated snake that shapes onto the side of the staircases. Secondly, the top of El Castillo reflects sound in a very special way. While visiting the site, you will experience an echo that comes after a single clap. The sound of the clap reflects off the top of the pyramid in the sound of the native Quetzal bird. It is still unsure how the acoustics match the native bird so perfectly, and how the Mayans could recreate it. Finally, in recent years GSI mapping has discovered an underground cenote below El Castillo. The civilization, thriving until about the year 1221, are thought to use the underground water cave as both a resource and a spiritual gateway into the underworld. Aside from this amazing pyramid, each site in the abandoned city is rich with appalling stories that will blow your mind away.
Not far from the site of Chichen Itza is an amazing pit stop. Most excursions can easily include this pit stop for a very reasonable price. Ik Kil is an jaw-dropping cenote that has an overhead opening to let in Mexico’s shining sun. The cavern drops down to a fresh water cenote that visitors can swim in. It served as a great way to cool off after a morning of hot ruin tours, and a great way to feel the adventure that is Mexico.