This September 23rd, during the autumn equinox, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza reminds us why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. On this day, thousands of visitors gather in the Great Plaza at the foot of El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulcan, and as the sun begins to set, the secret of the pyramid is revealed, an ancient serpent god returns to earth.
Equinox is the time of year when there are equal hours of day and night, “equinox” meaning “equal night”. The Kukulcan pyramid was built with such mathematical precision and aligned to catch the rays of the setting sun on the spring and autumn equinoxes. Triangles of light and shadow ripple along the side of the north staircase creating the body of a snake. As it merges with the head of a stone serpent at the foot of the building, the illusion is complete – a gigantic serpent slithering down from the heavens and across the ground towards the Sacred Cenote.
The idea that a civilization which evolved as early as 1500 BC managed build a monument of such incomprehensible scale to highlight the time of year when the hours of daylight and darkness are equal is extraordinary.
This year, the autumn equinox occurs on September 23rd, although the serpent of light and shadow may also be seen the day before and after, cloud cover permitting. So if you’re staying in our Grand Palladium Resorts in Riviera Maya, don’t miss this spectacular display of magical proportions.