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Climbing the Pyramid of Chichen Itza

1 Feb, 2023

In the last year, even the last few months, we’ve heard of people climbing the Pyramid of Chichen Itza. This has raised a lot of questions, but the most frequently asked question is: Can one climb the Pyramid of Kukulkan?

In 2008, the Yucatan government forbade climbing to the top of the Pyramid of Chichen Itza.  

Why Can’t you climb the pyramid?

Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has become the second most visited of Mexico’s archeological sites. It remains open to the public 365 days of the year, welcoming an average of 8.000 visitors per day in the high season.  

Since a few years ago, climbing ruins in Chichen Itza and consequently, any monuments, have caused the buildings to be structurally worn down because of a huge amount of tourist traffic.

There is no question that tourists, climbing the sites, had left their marks in the form of graffiti, and even the stone steps of monuments were already showing heavy signs of rapid erosion. Letting tourists climb up monuments has severely damaged the pyramid and other buildings in Chichen Itza. In order to avoid deterioration, Chichen Itza definitely needs permanent maintenance and attention.

Permanent maintenance and restoration

Photo by: @carloshdzsuarez

Fully restored, the 5 km core area of Chichen Itza is under the official management and protection of the INAH (Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History).

 Chichen Itza was declared an archeological monument in 1986 and it is also protected by the Federal Law on Monuments and Archeological Artistic and Historic Zones. The preservation methods being used seem to be very professional and responsible.

INAH has been closing monuments to public access over the past several years and visitors can no longer climb them or go inside their chambers. Another fair reason behind the restriction was a couple of accidents. People use to trip or even fall due to the steep steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkan. And no one wants these accidents to keep happening.

 But not everything is blue, now all beautiful monuments are there in all their glory, as in the past the structures could barely be seen under the press of bodies climbing all over them.

Today the ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property and the site’s management is maintained by INAH. But the actual ruins of the city extend over 25 km with many unexcavated ruins and this part is not under any state protections. Village cooperatives and individual landowners make use of this land for agricultural purposes.

Throwback photos!

People climbing the pyramid of chichen itza

If you've ever visited Chichen Itza before 2008, you then must have climbed the pyramid, lucky you... If you have a picture, share it with us on Instagram!

In conclusion, as in Chichen Itza, almost every archaeological site in Mexico has forbid climbing the buildings and monuments. And as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, we would love to see these sites preserved for many generations to come. We want all to know and remember the Mayan legacy through Chichen Itza, Wonder of the World. 

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