Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayan people within the first millennium BC, before becoming a major city in 600 AD. The city is located in the municipality of Tinum, in the Mexican state of Yucatán. The site includes many architectural styles which suggest that the people who lived within the city migrated from all over Mexico with their different ideas on structures and design. It is believed the location of the Chichen Itza was selected by the Mayan people because it is in the same area as two large sink holes that would provide water for them all year round. However one of the sink holes is believed to have been used for sacrificial reasons. During a drought men, women and children were offered to the Chac God, the God of rain and lightning to the Maya people.
The Chichen Itza was built with a large wall measured at 95 metres long at a height of 8m. This area was known as the Great Ball Court where the locals would play the game called Mesoamerican Ballgame, where the players would use their hip to get a rubber ball through a circular hoop on the wall. Unlike basketball however, the ball was smaller and the hoop was tilted so it was sitting at a 90 degree angle sticking out from the wall.
The main attraction within the ancient city ground is the “El Castillo” (Spanish for Castle) built sometime between the 9th and 12th century. The exact date of the structure is unknown due to all records of the structure being lost. It is believed it was built for religious purposes with the temple located on the roof. Spaniards invaded the city in 1526, destroying all religious records of the city, which is why the religious views and structures are a mystery to many historians.
Today, the Chichen Itza is the most visited architectural site in Mexico with approximately 1.2 million tourists going to visit the attraction each year. People used to be able to climb the 24m high Castillo and see the magnificent view of the countryside surrounding the city, but in the past few years it was discovered that the prehistoric building was not stable enough to allow people to continue to climb to the temple at the top. The Chichen Itza is still recognised today as one of the most well-known pre-Columbian structures in Mexico and will always have a long history behind it with a few mysteries along the way.