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Steps of El Castillo
Chichen Itza
About Chichén Itzá
ancient Observatories



Stone hoop decorationSouthwest of the Sacred Cenote is the Ball Court, which may also echo the Mayan creation myth. In the story, hero twins play on the Ball Court. They emerge victorious from their game with the lords of death and resurrect the first father, the Maize God, who is ultimately buried there to be worshipped by humanity forever. In some Mayan myths, the Maize God still sleeps beneath the Ball Court, waiting to arise and bring the Maya back to their vanished glory.

Ballcourt and lawnAt the northern end of the Ball Court, there’s a small temple. The temple is dwarfed by the rest of the buildings in the Ball Court, but it is also the central focus of the architecture; the walls of the court converge, drawing the eye relentlessly toward that temple.

tree drawingThe balustrades of the temple’s stairway display the World Tree, its branches filled with blossoms and birds, while its roots reach into the earth, transforming into the head of a dragon. The interior of the temple displays images of the sacrifice and resurrection of the Maize God, jade-shirted, with a double-headed serpent emerging from his open chest. Images of the ball game, with purification rituals and the sacrifice of the defeated, surround this central image. By reenacting the sacrifice and resurrection of the myth, some people believe that the leaders of Chichén shed their individuality and assumed the cloak of myth, claiming temporal power through reference to timeless stories of creation.

View  from El CastilloLook out from the lofty perch at the summit of El Castillo, with its main chamber facing north toward the dark heart of the Sacred Cenote, and the Mayan cosmos appears to have been mapped out with clarity and precision. And, out of the ruins, the Mayan world reappears.

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