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Visit Chichen Itza, ruined Mayan city
Visit the ultimate Mayan ruin and be overwhelmed by towering step pyramids and grisly tales of human sacrifice.
The immaculately preserved pyramids, courts and temples that make up this 1,500-year-old site are perhaps the most impressive collection of Mayan structures anywhere. Their bas-reliefs and sculptures reveal much of the bloody and ritualistic side of ancient Mesoamerican life, as will your knowledgeable guide who will help to decipher the mysteries of the ancient city.
The imposing pyramid of El Castillo – recently declared one of the new wonders of the world – is the most arresting feature of the site, occupying a vast central plaza where giant iguanas nonchalantly bask beneath the fierce sun. Following in the footsteps of ancient worshippers, modern-day visitors flock here on the spring equinox to watch the shape of a sacred snake appear from the shadows to ascend the stone steps of the pyramid.
Also of great interest is the large ball court where ritual sports were played: you can still see the intact stone rings through which teams had to hit the ball to ensure the rising of the sun. Bas-reliefs of decapitated players suggest the ultimate sacrifice for the losers (or winners, according to some theories).
This is far from the only gruesome tale you’ll discover on your tour, as you examine sacrificial altars, podiums etched with hundreds of realistic skulls and the sacred cenote where it’s thought human sacrifices were thrown directly into what the Mayans saw as an entrance to the underworld of Xibalba.
Mérida, Chichén Itzá and the Yucatan
Holidays Visit Chichen Itza, ruined Mayan city
From expertly designed Private Journeys to trail-blazing Group Tours, browse our range of carefully crafted holidays.
Group - Classic
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Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Lina Fuller - Travel Expert
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Evie Oswald - Travel Expert
It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.
Sophie Barber - Travel Expert
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.