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Chichen Itza |

Chichen Itza is arguably one of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the Yucutan. It has the largest ball court (a sacred sport where the outcome reflected the will of the gods and determined the course of future events - similar to football then) Oh and it's speculated that either the winners or the losers were sacrificed afterwards - its supposed to be an honour so theoretically that should be the winners but I can't imagine anyone actually trying very hard to score if that were the case!

It has a circular observatory whose windows are aligned with key points in the movements of the Moon and of Venus, which was used by the priests to determine fortuitious dates for crop-planting, harvesting and religious festivals.

It also has the tallest pyramid in the region, an architectural representation of the Mayan calendar. The four sides each have nine levels split in two by a staircase made up of 91 steps. With the platform on top and the four stairways of 91 steps, that gives 365, the number of days in the year. The 9 levels split in two on each side represent the 18 months of the Mayan year, of 20 days each, giving 360 days with five 'dead' days left over where the Mayan people lived quietly and tried not to incur the wrath of the gods which would jeopordise the start of the new year. In addition, the stairways on two sides are flanked by serpent heads which during the solstices have a triangular shadow pattern cast on them like the skin of a snake. An fascinating and incredible pieve of archicture, or as one particularly eloquent American tourist put it 'What a cool-looking pyramid'.

Locations Visited: Valladolid

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