And it is the representation of the latter which is amongst the
most important ones, because Chichén Itzá
in an area with no rivers and the city could only calm its thirst
with water coming in the form of rain, which would concentrate in
the cenotes or sacred pits, thus allowing them to live and develop,
along with the admirable technology of both civilisations.
Nowadays, Chichén Itzá
, at 120 kilometres from
Mérida, is one of the best restored pre Hispanic cities in Mexico.
Magnificent buildings, whose cultural and historical values were
acknowledged by UNESCO in 1988, by declaring it Patrimony of Humanity,
rise in its roughly 10 square kilometres (it may have stretched
for 100 during its time of splendour according to specialists).
Investigators have come to identify two architectonic stages or styles: the classical Mayan period (VII to X centuries) whose main constructions are on the southern side, in the zone known as Old Chichén; and the Maya - Tolteca period (late X and early XIII centuries, a time known as sacred cenote) when the most important constructions were built.
Amongst the constructions that have withstood the passing of time, we have the unmatchable pyramid of Kukulkán, a gigantic calendar in the centre of the plaza, standing out; a precinct almost as notable as The Spiral, used for astronomic studies, and considered to be the top masterpiece in Mayan architecture due to its characteristics.
Another precinct standing out for the beauty of its shapes is the Temple of the Warriors. It keeps numerous sculptures in its interior acting as columns, being the most attractive that of Chac Mool, the messenger of the gods, represented by a man sitting with his legs bent and his head leaned.
A singular space is the patio of the Ball Game, the largest in Mexico. A religious ritual, consisting on introducing a heavy rubber ball through a stone loop placed high on a wall, was practiced at this court. The ball could not fall to the ground because it represented the sun and the heavens.
Those taking part on the game could not touch the ball with their
hands, which complicated the task. It is believed that the team
losing the game were sacrificed during the Tolteca presence in Chichén
; a macabre habit that generates many question even
in our times.
Another key place in Mayan religiosity is the Sacred Cenote, regarded as the dwelling of the rain god, a belief that turned the city into a pilgrimage centre, even after the zone was abandoned by its settlers.
The cenote is 20 metres deep with a diameter of 60 metres. Sacrifices and offerings took place in it, having thus far been found in its depths innumerable gold and jade objects, vessels and sculptures, besides human bones, including those of a child.
seems to talk through its monumental
stone constructions, an invaluable legacy that reflects the way
of life of the Mayan people, their great religiosity, their brilliant
architecture and their amazing knowledge, which allowed them to
measure time and to design their own calendar. Pre Hispanic wonders
that attract travellers from all over the world, who admire the
mysterious and spectacular Mayan legacy.