The Ball Game is characteristic of Mesoamerican societies. The Ball Game was more a ceremonial ritual than a sport and probably represented the symbolic recreation of the mythical combat between night and day. There is a singular acoustic phenomenon peculiar to the Ball Game Court: if one speaks in the Temple in the Southern end the voice can be heard at the opposite end, as the sound reverberates along the walls of the North Temple.
The Tzompantli. The structure is a large platform whose most notable details is the collocation of the skulls in the bas-relief decoration which gives the structure its name: The Platform of the Skulls. The base is sustained by three tableaux decorated with skulls and divided by mouldings.
This is a small platform with four stairways. On the base of the structure there is a vertical wall with raised panels displaying images which relate to the course of the sun across the sky during the day and its descent to the underworld at night, as “Sun of the Earth”. The eagles and jaguars symbolize the warriors who capture victims to feed the sun god.
This is a square platform with stairways on each side. On the raised panels there are bas-reliefs of the planet Venus in the form of a “knot” of years, beside a half flower with asps on the petals, and the shape of the plaited mat (pop in Maya) as the symbol of power. In the recessed space Venus is depicted with jaguar claws emerging from the jaws of a plumed serpent.
The Temple of the Warriors is a structure 40 feet high and 133 feet wide. The central temple shows reliefs of warriors and eagles and jaguars devouring human hearts as well as representations of the god Tlalchitonatiuh.
This is a vast quadrangle. On the west side one can see the remains of four chambers, two of which were filled in so as to support a second floor. The columns were built between 900 A.D. and 1200 A.D. and show the remains of stucco covering, which would have been painted in different colors.
The building traditionally known as the Market Place is set upon a platform 266 feet long and 49 feet wide. It has a central staircase with balustrades and a line of round pillars alternating with square pillars.
The Cenote is a naturally formed open well whose diameter from north to south is 165 feet, and from east to west, 200 feet. As part of the cult offered to the water god the pre-Hispanic Maya made ceremonial offerings, throwing into the well many precious objects. Later, they introduced the practice of making human sacrifices.
The steam bath still conserves part of the flat roof, as well as the remains of four columns in the portico and some stone slab seats placed against the façade. A narrow opening gives access to the inside, where there are stone slabs for the bathers to sit on.
This is a pyramid with nine stepped blocks and with a staircase on each of the four sides, with balustrades carved with interlocking serpents that lead to a temple at the top, whose entrance proudly displays two serpent columns.
Above the roof the remains of the crest are barely conserved. The name of the templer, according to tradition, comes from a painting of a deer in the interior, that has now disappeared. From what remains to be seen today it seems possible that he building suffered from a water tract that washed away the stucco from the walls, where this painting might have been.
The Chinchanchob is set on a rectangular platform with rounded corners. A stairway without balustrades provides access to the temple at the top with two crests, one at the front and one on the central part of the roof. The front crest is decorated with alternating fret patterns and masks of Chaac above the entrances. The style of the building corresponds to that of the Puuc Region.
This square building, with a crest on the roof, has one single vaulted room. The façade displays a profuse and symmetrical ornamentation of stone mosaic in the upper part and beneath, a moulding of stepped fret shapes. Next, comes the frieze with a mask of Chaac in the middle.
The southern group belongs to old Chichen and is a complex of buildings located in the jungle, to the south of the group made up by the Observatory and the Nunnery. The buildings of the southern group were constructed between the 7th and the 10th centuries AD and correspond to the Puuc architectural style. The most important are the Temples of the First Series, of the Phalluses, of the Owls and of the Atlases.
This building, one of the few circular structures built by the Maya, is believed to have been used for astronomical observations, throught openings in the top of the tower.
The so-called Caracol or Observatory is a structure built in the form of a larger circular tower set on a platform with a central staircase. The base is set on another rectangular platform, decorated with a cornice of rounded corners on the upper part. The Caracol is really built of three superimposed buildings.
The first part of the cylindrical tower is formed by two concentric walls which enclose a pair of circular chambers each with four doorways.
The second level comprises the cornice of the first level and a second, narrower one, which frames a frieze. Above the doors, the frieze has a mask o Chaac and a seated figure, framed with motifs made of feathers and serpents.
The third and fourth parts of the tower have deteriorated, but a series of openings or windows can still be glimpsed which perhaps served for making astronomical observations.
On the west side of the larger base there is a staircase whose balustrades are adorned with intertwining serpents´ heads.
The total height of the monument is 75 feet. The structure was constructed during the first period of the Military city.
The Maya Studied the sun, the moon and Venus, and their observations included some visible bodies such as Mercury, Mars and other stars.
Their priests, the greatest astronomers of the time, succeeded in calculating solar and lunar eclipses, the rising and setting of Venus and the movements of stars and planets, as well as the solar year, with great accuracy.
Even today, scientists are amazed at the development of Mayan astronomy. For the ancient Maya, astronomy and cosmogony were closely linked in their mythical conception of the universe.
The Lords of Time
Known as the “Lords of Time”, the Maya were unique in elevating to the rank of gods not only the idea of time, but also the periods into which it is divided. They represented time as supernatural beings whose mission was to maintain order in the universe. The Mayan gods of time completed their life cycle in a constant circular movement beginning with their birth, developing with the manifestation of their characteristics, and finishing with their death. They were then re-born and a new cycle of birth and death was begun.
This is one of the most imposing of all the architectural groups in Chichen itza.
The main façade of the complex faces north, and comprises three buildings: The Nuns’, the East Annex and the Southeast Annex. The three date from different periods of construction.
The Nuns’ Building stood on a base that is now no longer visible, the main section of the building is 33 ft high, with a central staircase on the north side, which led to the upper temple. The temple has a profusely decorated façade, in the Chenes style.
To the left of the tall, heavy structure is the square building called The Church, with the Annex of the Nunnery, and a small Ball Court. Owing to the great number of rooms that divide the upper temples the explorers during the Colonial Period believed that the building would have served as a cloister for the training of priestesses.
The Akab Dzib consists of one central building and two rooms. Later two buildings were annexed, each with eight rooms. The three groups are roofed with the Maya vault or false arch. In total the three buildings have eighteen rooms.
The east façade shows some blocks or seats of well-cut stone.