Most people recognize Chitzen Itza as the large archeological site built by the Mayan civilization, located in Mexico’s present-day Yucatan state. If you’ve never gone, you probably believe that its central structure, El Castillo (The Castle) and Chitzen Itza are synonymous with each other – but their not. There are many fascinating structures that, as a whole, bring the ancient city to life.
But the site is is comprised of two main thing: thousands of superbly intact ancient ruins and – something you never see in the tourist photos – lots of people trying to sell you stuff. Until March 2010, the land on which the ruins sit, was privately owned. As a result, the owners attempted to squeeze every bit of use (e.g. revenue) out of it and allowed the most incredibly large group of locals vendors to occupy every available inch of land on the pathways throughout the site. Tourists often complained about this and, my understanding is that the the state government has now “relocated” a number of the vendors.
Nonetheless, the structures themselves are incredible, both in stature, preservation and in their amazing technical and archeological planning:
A full set of photos is available in my Flickr photo set.