Discover Chichen Itza, the ancient capital of the Itzae Maya, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World in a 2007 global poll. At the height of its glory, A.D. 800 to 1150 (it was abandoned in 1250), Chichen Itza was a mighty city, dominating the Yucatan politically, commercially and militarily. It was also a sacred center where rulers and astronomers watched the heavens for portents and priests made sacrifices to appease the gods.
Chichen Itza's most famous building is the Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo at the center of the Great Plaza. It is so precisely aligned that during the Spring and Fall equinoxes in March and September, the north face of the pyramid catches the rays of the setting sun and the shadow of a gigantic serpent forms along the staircase, the illusion of the ancient feathered serpent god Kukulcan descending from the heavens.
Other buildings of note clustered around the Great Plaza include the Temple of the Warriors, 1000 Columns, Ball Court (the largest discovered in Mesoamerica), Temple of the Jaguars and the Tzompantli. A short walk away lie the Ossuary, Observatory, Las Monjas Group and the Sacred Cenote, a huge sinkhole that was the site of ancient sacrificial rites.