Sunday, July 25, 2010

Up and Down at Chichen Itza Pyramids

The 91 steps of El Castillo are so steep that people climb the steps leaning forward and using their hands as well as their feet, like giant ants. Some people have told us that they no longer allow visitors to climb the steps.
This is the view looking up the steps. The 91 steps mean that on the four sides there are 364 steps, plus the platform on top makes 365 to coincide with the days of the year.
This is the view from the top looking down the steps. This is one set of stairs it is important to watch your step going down, as serious injury or worse would be a certainty from a fall down these steps. Maybe that is why they no longer would not want people to climb up the stairs.
At the spring and fall equinoxes, the shadow cast by the edge of the Castillo forms the pattern of the back of a serpent on the side of the stairs, leading to the head of Quetzalcoatl, the serpent god, at the base of the stairs. Crowds gather to watch this masterful achievement of ancient architecture and astronomy.
At the Temple of the Skulls (Tzompantil), carved skulls commemorating the sacrificed are carved throughout the base of a large temple. When the temple was used, the skulls of the sacrificed were placed on stakes around the temple.
This is the temple at the north end of the ball court. The acoustics of the ball court are so good that a person talking in this temple could be heard at the opposite end, 443 feet away. This is the best preserved ball court in the Mayan world, but is only one of 9 ball courts at Chichen Itza. There is uncertainty and a debate whether it was the winning or losing team members who were sacrificed, but carvings show that players were sacrificed.

11 comments:

Joanne said...

This is a magnificent place! My trip to Mexico was definitely one of my favourites...
The worst steps to climb were without a doubt in Teotihuacan in Mexico City. Amazing country:)

brattcat said...

As I studied the first images, of people climbing up the pyramid, I wondered about getting back down again. Then you showed the perspective from the top and I shuddered. How exactly do you accomplish the descent? I suspect I would have to do it on my bottom, or the way I might descend a ladder.

JM said...

I just love the top shot with the climbing 'ants'! :-) Fantastic capture! I was about to ask you if you have climbed the Sun Pyramid in Teotihuacan, but I see now Joanne has already mentioned it. Another wonderful post!

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Joanne and JM,

We have climbed the pyramids at Teotihuacan outside Mexico City as well, but before we used digital photography. One of these years we will convert our negatives to digital. Julie injured her ankle climbinb the Pyramid of the Sun.

Randy said...

I have always wanted to go there. Thanks for the great photos. Oh and I agree with JM the top photo is my favorite.

Memphis MOJO said...

Great series. I can confirm that they no longer let people climb it (as of Jan. 2008 when I was there). I believe they told us what you said -- some climbers had fallen.

glenda said...

Wow! Steep stairs, sacrificed winners or losers, skulls on display. What an interesting culture. They sure do look like ants crawling up the pyramid, I think I would have my head down and clinging for life. Very interesting post!

Gringo said...

You have some exceptional shots here. Like JM it reminds me of ants climbing an ant hill....

Z said...

First photo is amazing. I love the human factor. It gives the scale of pyramid.

Bonnie Bonsai said...

Very interesting! I will recommend this pyramid to my daughter.

My first Costa Rica blog visit. Thanks for sharing. :)

Steven (Cavite DP) said...

This post is just Wonderful! The Pyramids of Chichen Itza is truly a World Wonder! I hope I get to see this before i die!

Steven^^

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