Temple of Kukulkan, Chichen Itza, Mexico
Located in the northern part of Yucatan Peninsula Chichen Itza is considered to be one of the greatest and magnificent cities of Maya civilization. According to some local manuscripts the settlement is dated to 415-435, while the others say 455. Chichen Itza means "at the mouth of the Well of the Itza(tribe)", because it was established near two natural wells (cenotes). The leader of Toltec Kukulkan took the city in 967-987, subjugated the local population and made Chichen Itza their capital. The ruins of the city occupy area over 300 ha.
As a result of Maya-Toltec cultural mixture during the X-XIII centuries were created such architectural masterpieces, as the Great Ball Court (The sacred Ball Court), the Temple of the Warriors, El Caracol - mayan observatory and the Temple of Kukulkan. The Temple of Kukulkan (pyramid) or as the Spaniards called it El-Castillo (The castle) was built by architects of that time in honor to the Feathered Serpent (Kukulkan). It occupies a leading position and is visible from any point of the city. The pyramid has a square base with sides 55,3 m, the height reaches 30 m (26m - pyramid and 6m- temple). The sides of pyramid interrupted with nine terraces, made in line with Toltec's mythology about afterlife "nine heavens". There are stairways on each side of the pyramid which symbolizes four cardinal directions of the world. Each stairway has 91 steps, and if we consider the top platform, the sum will be equal to 365 - the number of days in the year. There are two big heads of serpents at the base of the north face which stairway leads to the Temple's main entrance.
In 1930 the government of Mexico sponsored archaeological expedition to the temple of Kukulkan, during which archeologists found another pyramid constructed in Maya style inside the Toltec's. Here they found Chac Mool god statue and red Jaguar Throne decorated with jade stones. In XIV- XV centuries for unknown reasons people left Chichen Itza and the city was forgotten. In XIX century the traveling notes of Joan Galindo have come into the hands of John Lloyd Stephens and in 1839 he left for Mexico and rediscovered to the world this city. Chichen-Itsa is placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
By Ruzanna Mkrtchyan, www.building.am
Photos: Susan Wyatt; L.C. Swanson; http://www.maya-aztec.com