Marvels of the Mayan Civilization

 

Quintana who? Yuca-what? Both of these peculiar names are states in Mexico – mostly attracting vacationers, sunbathers and party-makers to the beach resort towns of Cancun, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen. But there’s more to these Caribbean destinations than just farniente on the powdery-white beaches. There’s a whole bunch of history namely Mayan ruins dating way, way back to anno domino times.

So if you’re interested in taking a break from all that sun worshiping and early-morning cocktails, read on for a brief introduction to the most popular Mayan ruins located just a few kilometers from most of the above-mentioned resort towns.

 

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01. CHICHEN ITZA

A huge complex with several ruins spread out over six square kilometers. This is where the biggest step pyramid Temple of Kukulkan (commonly known as El Castillo) is located. When I went a few years ago, visitors were still allowed to climb up the imposing pyramid but that is no longer possible. That, of course, certainly doesn’t take away from Chichen Itza’s appeal. I always wonder how Mayans could construct such massive structures without the help of today’s machinery or technology? Fascinating.

 

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02. COBA RUINS

Smaller than the Chichen Itza complex but no less impressive. Visitors are still allowed to climb to the top of the main pyramid. Beware – the steps are very narrow and steep but the views from the top make it worthwhile.

The stone hoops were used by Mayan men to play a very competitive game called pitz. The goal was to try to get the more or less 4 kg rubber ball into the hoops without using their hands. This ballgame was greatly influenced by local rituals and sometimes even involved human sacrifices.

 

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03. TULUM

A fortified city dating back to pre-Colombian times – the well-maintained archaeological Mayan ruins are made up of a palace, temples and a pyramid. But, let’s cut to the chase, this site is exceptional because of its dreamy location – it sits right on the coast of the unbelievably clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea! There’s even a small beach if you care to take a break from exploring all those ruins.

 

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Have you been to any of these Mayan ruins in Mexico?

 

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  • Sonia Sahni

    I have been wanting to go here for such a long time! Is is ok to climb if I have knee problems…or is it too steep?

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      You can no longer climb Chichen Itza but I think it’s still permitted to climb the Coba ruins. The climb is really, really steep and the steps are very narrow – not sure it would be ideal if you have knee problems. :

  • Natasha Welch

    I went here a couple of years ago with your family. Unfortunately you couldn’t climb Chichen-Itza anymore when I went which was sad but understandable as its important to conserve these magical places. I didn’t go to Coba but I remember Tulum beach well, such a beautiful place. I love Mexico and your pictures are breathtaking!

  • Ahhh I would love to visit Mexico one day. I am loving all these ancient ruins you get to visit, in addition to all the sun, sand and food! I’m fascinated too by Chichen Itza and how the Mayans could have built the structure without tools. Reminds me of the ancient Egyptian ruins I saw years back. How fascinating! Too bad you can’t climb anymore, but I am not surprised with the influxes of tourists, it’s probably for the best.

  • Editor-in-Style Good

    I have wanted to see the chichen itza for quite some time. We were supposed to go but then freaked out over the Zika virus 🙁 The photos are stunning and Mexico has such incredible charm.

  • Neha Verma

    This place is going to find a place in my bucket list. This civilization is one of the oldest is what I know. The place and the architectures look just stunning

  • Abby Castro

    I’ve always been intrigued by the history of the Mayan Civilization and those ruins are incredible. I would love to see them myself someday. And that beach at the Mexican Riviera is absolutely gorgeous!!

    Abigail of GlobalGirlTravels.com

  • I have wanted to visit Chichen Itza for ever! I am so jealous but this blog has got me forward planning! Great post! 🙂

  • Clare Colley

    I did all 3 of these when I was in Mexico, I went very early to Chichen Itza so very few tourists were there which was great. Coba I climbed to the top, even though it felt so dangerous!!! Tulum is just stunning, it was so hot the day I was there and with so many tourists but I loved the location of it. I avoided the beach there and went to one a short walk away, the beaches are so beautiful 🙂

  • The Mayan civilization is so fascinating to me! I had the chance to visit Tikal in Guatemala earlier this year and I was blown away. Too bad they won’t let you climb the tower st Chichen Itza anymore. I mean, it survived thousands of years and suddenly it’s not fit? Hmm. And you’re right about those steps! So tiny, so steep!