In the capital of Yucatan, Mexico, approximately seventy-five miles east of the town of Merida, lies the ancient Mayan city of Itza, often referred to as the Sacred City of Chichen-Itza (chee-chehn eet-sah). One of the many Mayan ruins, archaelogocially speaking, it has often been deemed the most important of the Mayan culture and is believed to have been one of the largest ancient Mayan cities in the north-central region of the Yucatan. Today, the whole area of Chichen Itza is less than 15.5 square kilometeres (about 6 sq. miles). At one time, the site was believed to have included hundreds of buildings, covering an area between four and six times the size it is now.
Today, many small mounds of rubble can be spotted where dwellings and smaller buildings, many made of wood, once stood. The buildings that have survived and are still intact today – about thirty structures in all – were all constructed of quarried stone. This complex is visited by thousands of tourists annually, many taking day trips from the nearby cities of Merida and Cancun, and is believed to be second only to the great pyramids of Egpyt. To be expected, tourism is on the rise by as much as 75% over the last ten years, and is expected to double as we approach the year 2012. Unfortunately, the federal government, which now manages the site, has been forced to prevent anyone from climbing the stone structures, especially the Pyramid of Kukulkan, as the stone steps have begun to show visible signs of wear due to the increase in traffic.
Why did all the ancient astronomers have a constant need to know where they were in relation to the Great Year? They considered it to be an absolute necessity because this information was related to even larger cosmic cycles, and the events that went along with them. Did their very existence depend upon it? Recent findings at Chichen-Itza suggest that this was definitely the reason. They were, after all, thought to be farmers and spring and autumn equinox would have been important to the Mayan culture.