Further inland, Chichen Itza was recently named a "New World Wonder" and is the best-known of the ancient monuments in the Yucatan. Impressive stone temples, pyramids, and several ball courts comprise this ancient city. El Castillo, the Pyramid of Kukulkan, was built with the Maya calendar in mind.Below, the Temple of the Skulls coupled with the stories of human sacrifice drew quiet attention from the youngest four in our group.
Astronomy, stars, and celestial observations played such an important part in the Maya way of life requiring modifications and additions to the Observatory over the years. The slits in the roof are aligned with the sun's equinoxes. And heading north and only a short drive from Chichen Itza are the ruins of Ek Balam. Only recently excavated (1997), these ruins have not captured the attention of the hoards of tourists, but they will in the future. We were practically the only ones roaming around, and were actually able to climb all over the ruins, including hiking the steps to the top of the pyramid. From the top, you can see overgrown hills to the north that hide yet untouched ruins. There is a sense of mystery surrounding all these ancient ruins and the life and times of the Maya. It was exciting to walk through history and imagine civilization as it once was.