The ancient cities of the Maya have an air of mystery whenever you visit them but for many travelers, a trip to the World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza in September to witness the Equinox offers even more wonders.
On September 23, the day of the fall Equinox, the Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo that dominates the Great Plaza at Chichen Itza, reveals its secret. In ancient times, it was a solar clock and calendar marking the passage of the seasons.
The pyramid is aligned to catch the rays of the setting sun on the days of the spring and fall equinoxes in March and September. Triangles of light and shadow appear along the side of the north staircase forming the rippling body of a snake. It merges with the head of a stone serpent at the foot of the building, creating the illusion of a gigantic reptile coming down from the sky and slithering across the ground towards the Sacred Cenote.
The snake symbolizes Kukulcan (also known as Quetzalcoatl in central Mexico), the feathered serpent god, returning to earth to give hope to his followers and heralding the spring planting and fall harvest seasons for the Maya.
The snake of light and shadow is also visible the day before and after the equinox, cloud cover permitting.
Thomas More Travel offers a variety of day trips to Chichen Itza, choose the one that suits you best and discover this incredible ancient city.
At dawn on the Equinox, people also gather in Dzibilchaltun, an archaeological site to the north of Merida, to watch the sunrise. The rising sun appears framed
by the doorway of the Temple of the Seven Dolls, the principal temple in the ancient city, so named because seven ceramic figurines were found in the inner sanctum.
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