Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and the second most visited of Mexico’s archeological sites. It remains open to the public 365 days of the year. 8.000 visitors per day in the high season climbing on monuments in Chichen Itza and consequently monuments have been structurally worn down because of a huge amount of tourist traffic.
Tourists, climbed the sites, had left their marks in the form of graffiti. The stone steps of monuments were already showing signs of rapid erosion. Letting tourists climb up monuments was severely damaging the pyramid itself. In order to avoid deterioration, Chichen Itza definitely needs permanent maintenance and attention.
Fully restored 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 are 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. The reason why American lady Mrs. Black who was 80 years old climbed the 91 steps of El Castillo and fell to her death on January 5th, 2006, the El Castillo Temple of Kukulkan was also closed to access. It is not allowed to climb up the monuments for the safety of visitors and the preservation of the structures. Now all beautiful monuments are there in all their glory, but 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.