In March, visitors flock to Mexico to celebrate the spring equinox at Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It was once a major center of the Mayan civilization and is home to some of the most iconic Mayan ruins in the world. Among these ruins is the Kukulcan Pyramid, also known as El Castillo, which is famous for its alignment with the spring and fall equinoxes.
Celebrating the spring equinox at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza was built by the Mayan civilization over the course of several centuries. Construction started in the 7th century CE. The site contains many impressive structures, including pyramids, temples, ball courts, and an observatory. But the most famous is the Kukulcan Pyramid.
On the day of the spring equinox each year, the pyramid is known for a visual effect known as the “serpent of light.” As the sun rises, the pyramid casts a shadow that appears to be a serpent slithering down the steps. This phenomenon is caused by the angle of the sun and the pyramid’s unique design, which incorporates 365 steps, one for each day of the year.
What’s amazing about the structure is that the architects knew astronomy so well that they could build something so large that also has such a dramatic effect at a precise moment centuries later.
The Serpent of Light
The serpent of light is a significant event for the Mayan people. They view it as a symbol of the cycle of life and death, and the renewing power of the sun. Many visitors flock to Chichen Itza on the day of the spring equinox to witness this event.
In addition to the pyramid, Chichen Itza is home to many other fascinating ruins. Among them are the Temple of the Warriors, the Great Ball Court, and the Observatory. Each of these structures has its own unique history and significance in Mayan culture.