If you’re in the Yucatan over the Spring Equinox, skip the beach for one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” as the serpentine Mayan deity Kukulkan makes his biannual shadowy descent down the pyramid at Chichén Itzá, March 18th-22nd.
Behold the Mystical Mayan Wonder of a Chichén Itzá Equinox
Chichén Itzá Ruins
4-5pm, March 18th-22nd
(Best on March 20th)
One of the most profound sights in the world is upon us once again, as the feathered Mayan serpent deity of Kukulkan prepares to descend his temple over the Spring Equinox, two hours east of Riviera Maya. Chichén Itzá tours are always guaranteed to make your jaw drop, but never more so than this magical time of year. That’s because there’s even more than meets the eye at one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.”
It’s Even More Amazing than it Looks
The Temple of Kukulkan’s design is gorgeous at a glance: nine perfectly flat levels climbing to temple at a height of almost 100 feet. Upon further inspection, the pyramid is even more amazing. It’s four sides represent the seasons, each with a 91-step staircase to the top, totaling 364. Add the top platform, and you have as many days as there are in a year. This is remarkable considering that twice a year the northwestern corner of the pyramid casts a shadow on its corresponding staircase that resembles the descent of a serpent from the temple at the top of to a sculpture of a snake’s head at the bottom.
The Equinox isn’t Always on March 21st
This intricate play of light and shadow wasn’t designed as just a show. It signified key times in the Mayan calendar – the Spring Equinox meant it was time to plant crops, while Autumn marked the harvest. They did this so they knew the actual equinox, a date that changes based on the Earth’s orbit (this year it’s on March 20th). This is important to note, as many visitors assume it’s always on the 21st, when crowds are thickest. Another thing to remember is that while the mystical “Descent of Kukulkan” is most prominent the day of the equinox, you have a couple days to see it before and after as well.