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.
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.
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.
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?