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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