Chichen Itza — El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcán)

The predominate structure at Chichen Itza, the one that really grabs your attention, is the massive El Castillo pyramid, also known as the Temple of Kukulcán. The sloped sides of the pyramid rise 79 feet/24 meters above the surrounding ground:

El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcán)

Sitting atop the pyramid sits a temple that adds another 20 feet/6 meters of height to the structure. This temple is to the feathered serpentine deity Kukulcán (alternatively spelled Kulkulkan), which according to Mayan culture was responsible for the creation of the world. Here you can see the temple a bit better:

El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcán)

And, yes, it’s a long climb to the top, I’m sure. But tourists are prohibited from making the trek, for obvious reasons:

El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcán)

Now I’m going to cheat, as this next photograph is not mine. It is from the Wikipedia article on this structure. During the vernal (spring) and autumnal (fall) equinoxes, the nine stepped portions of the pyramid cast a shadow upon the foot steps leading to the temple. At the base of these steps, on either side, is a serpent’s head. The shadow created by those nine structural steps gives the appearance of a serpent descending from the temple:

Original photo from this Wikipedia link

Next Monday we’ll take a look at where the Mayans in Chichen Itza played ball, which will of course follow this week’s Part 2 of Chichen Itza Fun Photo Friday favorites. But here’s a little preview of what’s in store when we go to ballcourt:


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