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For Entitled Tourists: This is Why You Can’t Climb the Pyramid of Kukulkan in Mexico

For Entitled Tourists: This is Why You Can't Climb the Pyramid of Kukulkan in Mexico
By Cvmontuy - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Ancient temples in Mexico keep making the news. Apparently, people are still struggling to understand how to visit these landmarks without being disrespectful to an entire culture. Do people not educate themselves before they travel?  

In the most recent case, a Polish tourist attempted to climb the stairs of the Pyramid of Kukulkan, which is also referred to as “El Castillo.” This majestic Mayan temple is located in the ancient city of Chichen-Itza. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you must travel to Mexico and make your way to the Tinum Municipality in the Yucatán state to reach this historic destination.  

Unsurprisingly, the oblivious tourist was met by angry bystanders. One of them even got physical by hitting the tourist with a stick. Like they say, ¡Quien lo manda!  


Turista Polaco sube a la pirámide de Chichén Itzá en Yucatán#piramide #chichenitza #palazo #parati

♬ original sound – Random Sounds

The reality is that this keeps happening in “El Castillo.” It seems that entitled tourists do not understand the gravity of their actions.  

So, to bring everyone up to date, let’s explain what makes the pyramid of Kukulkan so special and why it merits all the respect it can get.  

The area is protected

According to UNESCO, Chichen-Itza is protected by the 1972 Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic, and Historic Zones and was declared an archaeological monument by a presidential decree in 1986. Due to its popularity, the site needs to undergo rigorous maintenance to avoid the deterioration of a prehispanic monument. 

A temple built to honor an ancient deity

The Temple of Kukulkan is a physical representation of the Maya Calendar and it is thought to have been built to be astronomically aligned. Its structure allows for the phenomenon known as the “Descent of Kukulcan,” which is created by the rays of the sun interacting with the edges of the pyramid’s steps to cast a shadow on the side of the structure’s staircase. This shadow – seen during the spring and autumn equinoxes – creates the illusion of a giant serpent, Kukulkan, descending the pyramid. Over 25,000 people visit the site for this special event.  

Kukulkan was the all-powerful feathered snake god worshipped by the Maya. Some say that Kukulkan causes earth tremors every year in July to let his sister know that he is still alive.  

The Pyramid of Kukulkan is among masterpieces

The monuments of Chichen-Itza, including the Temple or Pyramid of Kukulkan, are considered Mesoamerican architectural masterpieces. This area is also known as the most important archaeological depiction of the Maya-Toltec civilization in Yucatan dating between the 10th and 15th centuries. 

The Maya people didn’t play about their deities or the spirits they worshipped. So, it’s best to tread lightly when visiting these ancient sites. Overall, if you must visit these landmarks, do it respectfully. Is that too much to ask? 

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