Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic (c. AD 600–900) through the Terminal Classic (c. AD 800–900) and into the early portion of the Postclassic period (c. AD 900–1200). The Maya name “Chichen Itza” means “At the mouth of the well of the Itza.”
Chichen Itza is located in the eastern portion of Yucatán state in Mexico. The northern Yucatán Peninsula is arid, and the rivers in the interior all run underground. There are two large, natural sink holes, called cenotes, that could have provided plentiful water year round at Chichen, making it attractive for settlement. Of the two cenotes, the “Cenote Sagrado” or Sacred Cenote (also variously known as the Sacred Well or Well of Sacrifice), is the most famous. According to post-Conquest sources (Maya and Spanish), pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac.
Dominating the North Platform of Chichen Itza is the Temple of Kukulkan (a Maya feathered serpent deity similar to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl), usually referred to as El Castillo (“the castle”). This step pyramid stands about 30 metres (98 ft) high and consists of a series of nine square terraces, each approximately 2.57 metres (8.4 ft) high, with a 6-metre (20 ft) high temple upon the summit. On the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, in the late afternoon, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of triangular shadows against the western balustrade on the north side that evokes the appearance of a serpent wriggling down the staircase, which some scholars have suggested is a representation of the feathered-serpent god Kukulkan. In 2007, Chichen Itza’s El Castillo was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World after a worldwide vote.
A post by Jessica Penot on the site Ghost Stories and Haunted Places shares a surprising revelation about the ghosts that haunt Chichen Itza:
“What is most interesting about the ghosts that are said to wander these old ruins is that it is not the great pyramids that are haunted. The places where the sacrifices went on and where the stone was stained with blood remain quiet. It is the old observatory that is said to be haunted by the specters of old priests and Mayan men. Many tourists and guides have described seeing specters wandering this site. The Mayans were brilliant astronomers and were able to compute the circumference of the earth long before Europeans. They mapped the stars and predicted astrological events so perfectly that we can still count on their astrological predictions to come true. The observatory was in many ways the most important place to them as their religion was deeply connected to the movement of the stars. It therefore seems appropriate that it is this place that the ghosts cling too. The ghosts of the sacrificed have gone to the embrace of the gods, but those that searched for knowledge in the light of the stars are still lingering, searching for answers in the night sky.”