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Model of Chichén Itzá.

Dr. Aquair at Solstice Pinnacle  Click here for Image.The sun shines through the Squared Structure to this Pinnacle during the Summer Solstice. Click for Larger Image.

At the visitors' center at Chichén Itzá there are several informative displays including a model of the city (see photograph above) and this placard with a brief description of the city's history:

Chichén Itzá, the ancient city whose name means "in the mouth at the Itzáe's Well", was, in its time of grandeur (between 800 and 1200 A.D.), the centre of political, religious and military power in Yucatán, if not all of South-eastern Meso America.

In its architecture one can observe a gradual change in style, starting with the Puuc style, also shared with Uxmal and other sites in the Penninsula and cluminating with the so-called Mayan Toltec style, due to the architectural similiarities with Tula, capital of the Ancient Toltecs, and with other sites in Central Mexico, such as Oaxaca and the Gulf Coast.

Chichén Itzá was a large city with a great many inhabitants, distributed around the architectural nucleii which we observe as ruins, who had a relatively easy access to the water coming from the various caves and Cenotes of the region.

(Sign at the entrance of Chichén Itzá)

Click here for illustration
of Chichén-Itzá

The city is divided into two principal areas: Chichén Viejo (Old Chichén) and Chichén Nuevo (New Chichén). Follow the links to see sample illustrations of each of the two areas.

Chichén Viejo was founded about 400 A.D. by the Maya and governed by priests. Here the architecture is characterized by many representations of the god Chaac, the Maya rain god.

Chichén Nuevo began about 850 A.D. with the arrival of the Itzá from Central Mexico. The city was rebuilt by the Itzá and is charactorized by images of the god Kukulcán, the plumed serpent. Around 1150 A.D. a new wave of Itzá took over the city and ruled for another 150 years until Chichén Itzá was finally overtaken by the rival city of Mayapan.

The Itzá were politically and commercially more aggressive than the earlier Maya rulers and the city's history under their rule was marked by many bloody battles.

Chichén Itzá was abandoned suddenly around 1400 A.D. perhaps because of internal fighting or for lack of food. There are many theories but nobody knows for certain.