The Maya left behind a lot of mysteries that are still hidden in their grandiose structures and encrypted in hundreds of hieroglyphs. Not all buildings of the ancient Indians are fully studied today.
Every year, archaeologists and researchers use the most modern instruments to unravel the mysteries that hide behind the walls of the Mayan temple complexes or rest in the depths of their sacred cenotes and caves.
We reveal the secrets of the centuries-old Mayan ruins that guides will not show to ordinary tourists.
1. Pyramid of Kukulkan, Chichen Itza
This famous pyramid was first captured on film in 1880, almost completely hidden by the jungle. Kukulkana consisted of 9 platforms and 4 stairs, the total number of steps on which corresponded to the number of days in a year.
On the days of the autumn and spring equinox, from 17 o’clock you can observe the crawling shadow of a snake on the stones of the pyramid balustrade, and in March the shadow moves up, and in September – down. The illusion lasts for 3 hours and attracts the attention of thousands of tourists who come to see this unique phenomenon.
Another secret of this ancient Mayan structure is hidden inside. If you remove the top layer of stones, you can find a smaller pyramid, and in it – also the third, the smallest, with a secret room. And more recently, as a result of an electrotomographic study of the soil, scientists discovered an underground lake at a depth of 20 m under the base of the pyramid, which may look like one of the sacred Mayan cenotes. Archaeologists suggest that in the near future, the lake may erode the soil, leading to the destruction of the pyramid.
The pyramid also serves as a kind of resonator. When people climbed the stairs, sounds arose inside the structure that sounded like the cries of the sacred bird quetzal, which is found in local forests and is revered by the Maya people. But after 2006 there was an unfortunate case of a tourist who fell down the stairs, pyramid closed to the public. Today it can only be admired from the outside.
2. Balancanche Caves
A place that is usually not included in the classic tourist route along Chichen Itza, but is striking in its mystery no less than the pyramids, are the Balancanche Caves . They are located just 3 km from the Mayan temple complexes. The name translates as “the throne of the Sacred Jaguar”, where the ancient Indians performed their religious rituals over 3 thousand years ago.
In 1959, the Indian watchman of Chichen Itza, Jose Umberto Gomez, found a walled up passage in one of the branches of the cave. Behind it was the Mayan sanctuary, which housed the Jaguar Altar and many ancient artifacts.
One of the most famous rooms in the cave is the World Tree Room. On the three-dimensional model, you can see the entire grotto with a huge limestone column in the center, which symbolizes the Mayan tree – a kind of axis of the world, connecting the underground and heavenly worlds.
3. Cenote Ik-Kil
On the way back from Chichen Itza, the bus with tourists usually stops at the sacred Mayan cenote Ik-Kil, which the ancient Indians used as a place for sacrifices.
At a depth of 40 m, archaeologists discovered human bones and ornaments of the ancient Mayans, and today you can see dozens of calmly sailing tourists here.
4. Pyramid of El Castillo, Coba
If you cannot imagine your journey through the Mayan ruins without climbing one of the dozens of pyramids and taking a spectacular shot, then in the ancient city of Coba you should definitely like it. Here is the 42-meter pyramid of El Castillo , to the top of which you can climb 120 very steep steps.
If you can climb, you will see a magnificent panorama of the ancient Mayan city and you can look into a small ritual room with an altar, where the Indians once performed sacrifices.
5. Ancient city of Tulum
The only Mayan city built on the shores of the Caribbean Sea is located on the 12-meter cliffs of the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum was formerly known as Sama, which meant “city of dawn”. Unlike other ancient Mayan cities, Tulum was surrounded by an impregnable wall that protected from the attacks of nomadic peoples from the north.
In addition to ancient monuments, tourists are attracted here by many kilometers of snow-white beaches with clear turquoise water and excellent weather at any time of the year.
6. Pyramid of the wizard, Uxmal
The dominant feature of the ancient city of Uxmal is the 40-meter Pyramid of the Magician, another name is the “Castle of the Dwarf”. In fact, this is not one pyramid , but as many as 5, which were built on top of each other over several centuries. According to an ancient Mayan legend, the pyramid was erected by the magician Itzamna in just one night, and then became the ruler of these places.
7. Temple of the Inscriptions, Palenque
The temple was built over the tomb of the former ruler of these places and is decorated inside with 617 hieroglyphs, some of which have not yet been deciphered. At the very top of the pyramid is a building with three rooms, in one of which a hidden tunnel was discovered in 1949 leading to the tomb of Pakal with ancient relics and treasures.
Tourists are not allowed inside the tomb, but an exact copy of this room has been recreated in the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico.
8. Mayan city Yashchilan
The ruins of Yaxchilan are located just 4 hours from Palenque, on the border with Guatemala, in the heart of the jungle. Until recently, no highways were laid within a radius of 150 km from the city. It could only be reached by a small plane, but in 1990 the Mexican government built a road and made it easier for tourists to access this unique place. Here you can explore about 50 ancient buildings, view a collection of sculptures and try to decipher the mysterious hieroglyphs on them yourself.
9. Bonampak frescoes
Another ancient city, which is located near Yashchilan, was accidentally discovered in 1946 by American photographer Giles Hill. ” Bonampa k ” in the Mayan language means “painted wall”, which may have given the city its modern name. Today this place is known all over the world for its ancient wall frescoes in one of the temples of the complex. They depict Mayan rulers, dancing people, musicians, war scenes, as well as acts of sacrifice.
10. Temple of the Great Jaguar, Tikal
The city of ancient Indians was discovered in 1848, and the walled entrance to the grave of one of the rulers of Tikal was found only in 1962 in the Temple of the Great Jaguar. Archaeologists entered the tomb through the roof of the temple through a secret tunnel. There, researchers found jaguar skins, pearls, jewelry, including a 4 kg necklace on the ruler’s body.
As part of the celebration of the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, on December 21, 2012, the descendants of the Indians held a fire ceremony in front of the temple on the main square of the city, which was attended by over 3 thousand people.
Would you like to visit the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization?