The name (pronounced "chich-EN it-ZA") means "The mouth of the well of the Itzá" (or "At the edge of the well of the Water Sorcerers" according to some authorities) owing to the large cenote at the north of the site which was considered sacred. The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.Mérida, bought the land and explored the Sacred Cenote, recovering many objects from the well, including bones, pottery, beads, jade and gold. Most of these objects were sent abroad but some are exhibited in the Museum of Anthropology in Mérida.
According to the Mayan expert Dr. Sylvanus Morley, the Itzas first settled in the area known as Old Chichen about 435 AD (Classical period) and began to construct stone buildings in the Chenes and Puuc styles between 495 and 625. The site was abandoned towards the end of the seventh century and the people migrated south to Champotón where they stayed until 968 and then retuned to settle in Chichen bringing with them a new Toltec-influenced architectonic style. This was characterized by severe building lines and ornamental motifs based on the feathered serpent-god Kukulcán (equivalent to Quetzalcoatl in the Mexican highlands).
The site contains several stone buildings occupying an area of 4 square miles. The stepped-pyramid Temple of Kukulcán (named "El Castillo" - the castle - by the Spanish), is the most well-known edifice. The exact function of many buildings was unkown to the Spanish and names given to edifices are often because of some similarity to buildings in their own culture, such as The Nunnery or The Church. Most other names come from decorative features that have been on them. The High Priest's Temple is a small replica of "El Castillo" Pyramid; the name comes from an elite burial discovered by early excavator, the American archaeologist Edward H. Thompson (1856 - 1935).
Observatory Temple (El Caracol)
Temple of the Warriors
Palace of the Sculptured Columns
Platform of VenusPlatform of Eagles and Jaguars
Tzompantli (Platform of Skulls)
Temple of the Large Tables
Chichanchoob (The Red House)
House of the DeerHouse of the Grinding Stones
Platform of the Tombs
Temple of the Panels
Edward H. Thompson
Thompson for 40 years sent back a stream of valuable artifacts and information from Chichén Itzá. His books stimulated public interest in Maya Culture. He is most famous for his work at the Sacred Well.
Mayan Pyramid of Kukulkan - The Castle.
- Thompson, Edward H., People of the Serpent, 1932.
- Thompson, Edward H., 1938, The high priest's grave, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Field Museum of Natural History Anthropological Series Vol. 27, No. 1.
- Andrews, George F., Maya Cities: Placemaking and Urbanization. The Civilization of the American Indian Series, v. 131. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.