Hey everyone! I just came back from a long road trip in UK, and now it's time to post again. Woohoo~ so exciting! I noticed that the #travelphotocontest recently introduced daily themes. Great news for travel and photography enthusiasts, isn't it?

When I see today's theme "Ancient Architecture", the first image popped up to my mind is the famous Maya structure - the Temple of Kukulkan. So, I will start from my photo of the temple, and invite you to explore the Maya ruins with me.

If Kukulkan doesn't sound so familiar to you, then would Chichén Itzá ring a bell? This archaeological site is classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and it was enlisted as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Before I visited the place, I didn't know it's a whole site with groups of architectures from different periods in history. I thought that most recognizable step pyramid is called Chichén Itzá.

这周刚从英国回来,终于又有空发文啦。看到旅行摄影活动的今日主题是“古代建筑”,脑海中立刻出现世界新七大奇迹之一 —— 墨西哥的奇琴伊察遗址。其实出现的是羽蛇神金字塔,以前我一直以为这个金字塔就是奇琴伊察,去了这个玛雅遗址后,才知道原来整个奇琴伊察遗址占地10平方公里,包括各个历史时期的建筑群。而其中最有名的羽蛇神金字塔处于中心位置,位属北边一个建筑群。从下面我的照片和地图里可以看到,它的东边有一个武士神庙。再远一点还有其他建筑群,以后再继续分享。

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In fact, the Mesoamerican pyramid, as you can see in my photos here, is called El Castillo (meaning "the castle" named by first Spaniards), also known as the Temple of Kukulkan/Kukulcán. It is located at the centre of the Chichén Itzá archaeological site in the Yucatán state of Mexico. It's part of one of the three best known complexes - the Great North Platform. Other momuments in this set include the Great Ball Court and the Temple of Warriors. The entire Chichén Itzá site of Maya ruins occupies an area of 10 square kilometres.

On the left corner of my photo below, you see the Temple of the Warriors, another stepped pyramid. Its name came from the surrounding carved columns depicting warriors:

Chichén was founded presumably by Maya peoples at around the 6th century. The Maya name "Chichén Itzá" means at the mouth of the well of the Itzá, an ethnic group that used to dominate the northern Yucatán Peninsula. Speaking of wells, you have to check out those cenotes (sinkholes) there. Jumping into the refreshing water holes is such a treat in the extreme heat and humidity of the jungle!


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"Kukulkan" is a Maya feathered serpent god worshipped by the Yucatec Maya peoples of the Yucatán Peninsula before the Spanish conquest. I saw carved limestone heads of a serpent at the base of a staircase, but I couldn't get close to them as the pyramid was fenced. And according to a local guide, a red jaguar throne studded with jade was found inside the pyramid in excavations.

Anyway, looking at the 30-metre high 9-platform pyramid from distance is pretty amazing already. Upon the summit, you see a 6-metre high temple standing there. The four sides face four cardinal directions, and on each side, there are 91 steps leading to the top, making 364 in total. Hmm, so why not 365 - the number of days in a year? It actually is! You only need to add in the one step taken to enter the temple. These smart ancient people.

Now it comes to the more magical and probably the best known part: at sunrise or sunset, around the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, the triangular shadows casted on the north side of the pyramid are believed by some scholars to be the representation of Kukulkan wriggling down the staircase. They suggest that the structure was used for religious rites to ensure good agricultural results. And I visited it on the 25th of March, right after the Spring equinox! The pain of unplanned travels...

Still, this kind of fascinating and mysterious ancient architecture nevered failed to leave me in awe.

古代玛雅人信奉羽蛇神,为其建了这座金字塔,历史上又在旧塔基上加盖了更大更酷的新塔。这塔高达30米,地基方形,九层平台,四面分别朝向东南西北。每一面的台阶各有91级,乘以4,总数364级,你要问为什么还差1级就达到一年的天数了?别急,古代人聪明着呢,好像4个面也建不出总数是奇数的台阶来 加上最后登顶入殿的那1级,就正好是365级啦。


to be continued...

All content by @itchyfeetdonica
图文 by Donica多

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