After only a few days of honeymooning on Cancun’s beaches, it was time to return to normal life and explore some Mayan ruins. So we headed straight for Chichen Itza, the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to beat the afternoon sun and the hordes of visitors, we arrived early and even managed to snap a few pictures of the impressive El Castillo pyramid without anyone in it. Ducking in and out of trees and bushes, we continued exploring the rest of Chichen Itza’s attractions: the large ball court, the observatory and the Temple of Warriors to name just a few.
Unfortunately, since a tourist fell off El Castillo in 2006, all the monuments have been cordoned off and closed to the public. This means no scampering up the pyramid, no climbing over rubble, or no seeking shade between pillars. What’s an Indiana-Jones-wannabe to do? I have to admit it definitely took some of the fun out of the experience. It also made it quite difficult to get a close-up look at all the great stone carvings which portray the Mayan history in all its graphic detail. Just look at the picture below of someone holding a human head. Yikes!
Overall, Chichen Itza was definitely worth the visit. Although, maybe not for much longer. Rumor has it that Disney wants to build a theme park around the archaeological site. (Seriously? I find that hard to believe.) Well, if that’s the prize for having been declared one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, then I’m glad the Pyramids of Giza, Tikal or Angkor Wat didn’t make it on the list.
It’s a wonderful place, isn’t it? I visited with my family when you were still allowed to climb the pyramids, and we got some great views from the top! The thing that struck me most about climbing them was how shallow the steps were and what a steep angle they went up at; somehow, this made me think the people who’d built them must’ve had really small feet!
@Sam, I’m sure that’s true. These steps are not made for big western feet. In a way I understand why they closed the pyramid; it’s not only the sheer number of visitors, it’s also the kind of visitors… We saw way too many people climbing pyramids in other places who should not have been climbing at all. It’s so scary to watch, but you can’t make yourself look away… 😉
There was a story in the SDUT about the woman who fell from the pyramid. She was a San Diegan. When I read this article, I told my kids that’s how I want to go – falling off a steep pyramid while exploring a ruin or climbing up a redwood tree to see with my own eyes a forest in the canopy… What a shame that this 80 year-old adventurer’s death was used to make the climb to the top off-limits to all! Maybe a permit system could be put in place in the future. Like you, Tony, I can’t believe that Disney would put a theme park there.
I don’t think the fall was the real reason for closing the pyramid because they didn’t just close the pyramid, they closed every single building in Chichen Itza.
I think it was more of a preservation decision simply using the fall as an excuse. If they were really worried about people falling, they would have closed every pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. But Ek Balam and Coba (just to name a few) are still open.
Too bad for the pyramids and some parts of Chichen Itza are now closed for closer exploration. That definitely takes a big part of the fun. However if the reason is for conservation I do support it. But wait, a Disneyland near a UNESCO World Heritage Site? That’s ridiculous! I do hope they scrap that plan.
Not just some of the buildings… everything, except the ball court.