Deep within the jungles of Mexico and Guatemala and extending into the limestone shelf of the Yucatan peninsula lie the mysterious temples and pyramids of the Maya. The fa-mous Mayan pyramids off Chichen Itza are over 1500 years old and are located only 75 miles from Merida. The name Chichen Itza is a Mayan word: chi (mouth) Chen (well) and itoa (of Itza tribe).
This archaeological site is rated among the most important of the Maya culture. The ruins are divided into two groups. One group belongs to the classic Maya Period and was built between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D., at which time the city became a prominent ceremonial centre. The other group corresponds to the beginning of the 13th century A.D.
This area includes the Sacred Well and most of the outstanding ruins. When Chichen Itza was first settled it was largely agricultural. Because of the many cents in the area, it would have been a good place to settle. During the Central Phase od the Classic Period, referred to as Florescence, (625-800 A.D.) arts and sciences flourished here. It was at this time that Chichen Itza became a religious centre of increasing importance, evidenced by the building erected: the Red House, the Houde of the Deer, the Nunnery and its Annex, the Church, the Akab Dzib, the temple of the Three Lintels and the House of Phalli
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