The Castle or "El Castillo" in Chichen Itza

Visit Chichen Itza next March 21st to witness the magic of the Spring Equinox.

Seen in different indigenous cultures throughout Mesoamerica as a feathered snake, Kukulkan, will make its descend on the luscious, tropical jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula this March 21st during the spring equinox at Chichen Itza.

The head of Quetzalcoatl.

Kukulkan--or Quetzalcoatl in the Aztec tradition--represents a mystical deity surrounded by a number of legends and stories. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Kukulkan ruled over Chichen Itza during the 10th Century.

One of the many legends that surround the feathered snake is that of Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs who arrived to the Yucatan Peninsula after he was exiled from the Toltec capitol of Tula. After promising the Aztecs to return, he arrived on a bed of snakes to rule the Mayans of the Gulf of Mexico.

Every year, thousands of people travel to Chichen Itza—one of the New Seven Wonders of the World—to witness the symbolic descent of the deity. This incredible example of the Mayan’s architectural intelligence is created when the sunlight bathes the western part of the pyramid’s main stairway. Seven isosceles triangles are formed and compose the body of the 37 yard-long serpent that creeps downwards until it joins the serpent’s head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway. Kukulkan—the feathered snake—descends twice a year during the spring and autumn equinox.

The Equinox at Chichen Itza.

An equinox occurs when the sun, in its orbit around the earth, passes directly over the Earth’s equator making the length of daylight and evening hours equal. The word equinox is derived from the Latin word for equal “aequus” and “nox” meaning night. The fall equinox happens on September 22. The snake descends from around March 19th to the 23rd, but its effects are most dramatic on the actual day of the equinox.

The Mayan archeological zone, Chichen Itza (on April 3rd, Elton John will be performing live from there.) is composed of a number of Mayan ruins, the most prominent and famous being El Castillo or the grand pyramid.

Kukulkan’s pyramid was built for astronomical purposes. The staircase on all four sides is made of 91 steps on each side totaled with the last step on top equal the 365 days in a solar year. The event is the most dramatic display of Mayan astronomical knowledge encoded into architecture.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience only has a 72-year time window—from 1976 to 2048—so book your vacation with Yucatan Holidays to witness the spring equinox in Chichen Itza.

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Yucatan Holidays


9 Responses to “Chichen Itza and the Spring Equinox | Yucatan Holidays”

    • Yucatan Holidays

      Hello Judy, the next Equinox will take place on March 20th, 2011. Of course we have vacation packages with hotel and the tour to Chichen Itza for that date. I’ll send you an e-mail with some details! 🙂


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