Chichen Itza is one of the best known Mayan ruins in all of Mexico, and has been voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The 5 sq km site is filled with intricately-designed temples, bath houses, and religious sites, like the Temple of the Jaguar above. Jaguars are a common symbol in Mesoamerican art and can be found on many of the temples. They stand for strength, confidence and divinity.
The site is dominated by the main Castillo, a pyramid with 90 steps to the top on all four sides, built by the Maya between 600 – 900 AD.
The Maya name “Chich’en Itza” means “Mouth of the well of the water-sorcerer.” Since the Yucatan peninsula has no above-ground rivers, retrieving water was only possible through natural sinkholes called cenotes. Chichen Itza has two cenotes, one of which is the Cenote Sagrado, or Sacred Cenote where skeletons of sacrificed men and children (!!) have been discovered, along with valuable objects such as gold, pottery, jade and copper.