El Castillo, Chichen Itza

Pyramid in Chichén Itzá

El Castillo, Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza (3326547826).jpg
Temple of Kukulcán
Ancient nameKukulcan
Constructed8th–12th century AD
TypeMesoamerican Step pyramid
Materiallimestone
Height24 m (79 ft), without temple
30 m (98 ft), with temple
6 m (20 ft), Temple itself
Base55.3 m (181 ft)
Slope37°29'44" (edges)
47º19'50" (sides)
LocationTinum Municipality, Mexico
Part ofPre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
CriteriaCultural: (i), (ii), (iii)
Reference483
Inscription1988 (12th session)
Coordinates20°40′58.4″N 88°34′7.0″W / 20.682889°N 88.568611°W / 20.682889; -88.568611Coordinates: 20°40′58.4″N 88°34′7.0″W / 20.682889°N 88.568611°W / 20.682889; -88.568611
El Castillo, Chichen Itza is located in Mexico
El Castillo, Chichen Itza
Location of El Castillo, Chichen Itza in Mexico

El Castillo (Spanish pronunciation: [el kas'tiʎo], Spanish for "the castle"), known as the Temple of Kukulcán (or also just as Kukulcán), is a Mesoamerican step-pyramid that dominates the center of the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the Mexican state of Yucatán. The pyramid building is more formally designated by archaeologists as Chichen Itza Structure 5B18.

Built by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries AD, the pyramid served as a temple to the deity Kukulcán, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent deity closely related to Quetzalcoatl, a deity known to the Aztecs and other central Mexican cultures of the Postclassic period. It has a substructure that likely was constructed several centuries earlier for the same purpose.

The pyramid consists of a series of square terraces with stairways up each of the four sides to the temple on top. Sculptures of plumed serpents run down the sides of the northern balustrade. Around the spring and autumn equinoxes, the late afternoon sun strikes off the northwest corner of the pyramid and casts a series of triangular shadows against the northwest balustrade, creating the illusion of the feathered serpent "crawling" down the pyramid. To contemporary visitors, the event has been very popular and is witnessed by thousands at the spring equinox, but it is not known whether the phenomenon is a result of a purposeful design since the light-and-shadow effect can be observed without major changes during several weeks near the equinoxes.[1]

All four sides of the pyramid have approximately 91 steps which, when added together and including the temple platform on top as the final "step", may produce a total of 365 steps (the steps on the south side of the pyramid are eroded). That number is equal to the number of days of the Haab' year and likely is significantly related to rituals.[2]

The structure is 24 m (79 ft) high, plus an additional 6 m (20 ft) for the temple at the top. The square base measures 55.3 m (181 ft) across.

  1. ^ Šprajc, Ivan; Sánchez Nava, Pedro Francisco (2018). "El Sol en Chichén Itzá y Dzibilchaltún: la supuesta importancia de los equinoccios en Mesoamérica". Arqueología Mexicana. XXV (149): 26–31.
  2. ^ Milbrath 1989: 66

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