Tag Archives: Cozumel

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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Fun Photo Friday — Chichen Itza Favorites Part 1

Beware the Guard Iguana!
Graffiti the Hard Way — One chisel at a time
Impressive Masonry Work
Entrance to the Great Ballcourt

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Same Ship; Different Destination — Reaching Chichen Itza

Quite the change from the Azores, eh? Brilliance of the Seas left São Miguel Island on 9 September 2018. You’ll recall that we started this trip well before that, with a flight to Dublin in 27 August, where we stayed for several days. We then departed Amsterdam, boarded Brilliance of the Seas, and set sail for a circumnavigation of Ireland, including a return to Dublin. We left behind Ireland, and landed on São Miguel Island. From there Brilliance completed a transatlantic crossing winding up in Tampa, Florida. But we weren’t yet finished with Brilliance. We stayed aboard for a second cruise that would first take us to Key West for some spectacular sunset shots:

Key West was reached on 18 September, and two days after that Brilliance landed at the port of Cozumel, Mexico, a large island off the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. You may recall that I’ve written on Cozumel before, after an incredibly disappointing first, and most likely last, cruise aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship (see: Carnival Victory — More Key West and Cozumel). And in 2013 I took you on a three-part Cozumel Bar Hop:

Cozumel Bar Hop — Parte Uno

Cozumel Bar Hop — Parte Duo

Cozumel Bar Hop — Parte Tres

But this trip to Cozumel would be different than the preceding ones. Today we were on another excursion, one that would take us across the island, have us boating onto the Yucatan and Playa del Carmen, and then taking a bus tour that would take us 2½ hours into the jungle while transporting us 1,200 years back into time. Behold the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá and the Temple of Kukulcán:

Temple of Kukulcán, Chichen Itza, Yucatan

The Temple of Kukulcán is a pyramid that rises 98 feet/30 meters, if you include in that measurement the temple at the apex. Otherwise, the pyramid structure itself is 79 feet/24 meters. And, yes, it looks to be quite the trek to the top:

Temple of Kukulcán, Chichen Itza, Yucatan

That’s 91 steps, in case you’re wondering. And, no, Ursula and I did not climb them. It’s not allowed. I’ll explain more about this impressive Mayan city beginning next Monday, and this week’s Fun Photo Friday will feature the first of three picks of favorite photos. So, until then, I’ll leave you with this photo gallery and slide show:

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