Experience the Equinox at Chichen Itza: A Beautiful Phenomenon

The name “equinox” means “equal night” in Latin, but what exactly is it? On the equinoxes, the sun is directly above the equator and the length of day and night are almost equal. This means that the Earth’s northern and southern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunlight – 12 hours each. The celestial event that marks this transition is called the “equinox”, which happens twice a year – on March 21 and September 21.

This extraordinary phenomenon can be witnessed in Chichen Itza, one of the most famous Mayan ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a wonder of the world that is conveniently located approximately a three-hour drive away from Villa del Palmar Cancun.

Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars in Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza History

The term ‘Chichen Itza’ means ‘the mouth at the well of Itza’. It is believed that ‘Itza’ means ‘water magicians’, since this area was over many underground rivers that served as the source of water for this city. Chichen Itza is a Mayan city that was later influenced by the Toltec civilization. Many believe that Chichen Itza was a religious center and a pilgrimage place for the Mayans.

The history of the city can be roughly divided into two periods. The first lasted from the 7th to the 10th century when it belonged to the Maya, and the second came in the 10th century after the Toltec occupation of the territory.

Maya was one of the most dominant Indigenous societies of Mesoamerica, which developed the science of astronomy, calendar systems, impressive architecture, and hieroglyphic writing. The people of the Toltec civilization, however, were legendary builders and sculptors who left many incredible monuments and a huge heritage behind.

In the middle of the 11th century, Chichen Itza became the capital of the Toltec state, and in 1178 it was defeated by a combined army of the rebel Maya tribe of three cities – Mayapan, Ushmal, and Itzmal.

At the end of the 12th century, the city was deserted for a reason that remains a mystery. The structures of Chichen Itza were gradually covered by a carpet of tropical vegetation until archaeological and restoration work began here in 1920.

The Toltecs worshipped a deity called Quetzacoatl or Kukulcan, meaning “feather serpent” in Maya, whose images are here contrasted with the rain god Chac, which you can see depicted throughout the site.

Nowadays, Chichen Itza is the most fully and well restored Mayan city, with a massive step pyramid, graphic stone carvings, a Temple of the Warriors, and more amazing sites to see that really make you feel as if you are living through the history.

Ancient Mayan stone reliefs at Chichen Itza.

Overview of the Equinox Spectacle at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is the most popular place in Mexico to celebrate the equinox. During the equinox event, many visitors flock there to watch the natural movement of light and shadows, enjoy the carnival atmosphere and traditional music, and folk-dance groups. The most exciting part is the snakes that descend step by step into the pyramid of El Castillo. The illusion of light and shadow forms seven triangles on the sides of the staircase, then connects the upper platform to the huge stone head with the head of the hairy serpent at the bottom. The equinox at Chichen Itza is a truly dramatic example of Mayan astronomy, stunning architecture, and incredible knowledge of geometry.

For many visitors, seeing the equinox at Chichen Itza an experience of a lifetime. This unique equinox event only occurs from March 19-23 and September 22-23 and starts around 4 pm (the dates of the equinox may change due to the season and date).

People visiting during the equinox usually wear white clothes to get rid of bad vibes and attract the positive energy of the new sun. Interestingly, people believe that when Kukulkan returns to Earth, he blesses his worshippers with a harvest and gives them health.

With only two Chichen Itza Equinox events, which occur every year on March 19-23 and September 22-23, you should consider planning a visit to Mexico during this time. We suggest staying at Villa del Palmar Cancun or Garza Blanca Cancun to be conveniently close to all the action.

When you visit Chichen Itza, you can see the light show regardless of the time of the year because it is artificially recreated every night during the Chichen Itza Light and Sounds Show.

An example of the feathered serpent god of the Mayans that can be seen crawling down pyramid El Castillo at Chichen Itza during an equinox.

Take a Tour of Chichen Itza

If you are lucky enough to visit Mexico during the time of Equinox, make sure to stop by one of the seven wonders of the modern world and enjoy the best excursion to Chichen Itza. Since it has a fascinating history, as well as magnificent and truly remarkable architecture, the smartest way to experience Chichen Itza is through a tour.

Transfers from Villa del Palmar Cancun are made by a shuttle service equipped with air conditioning for guests’ convenience.

The trip to Chichen Itza includes a two-and-a-half-hour guided tour, accompanied by a visit to a restaurant, where you will be shown some of the Mayan architecture in the Casita they built. There you will also have the opportunity to participate in the preparation of tortillas in the Mayan style.

In the restaurant, guests can walk through a stunning botanical garden. Then, the fun continues with guests heading to one of the famous cenotes, where they can go swimming.

If you are interested in taking this tour, you can book it in advance by contacting ResortCom Member Services, the pre-arrival team, or even book it on-site at the Resort Activities Office.

Seeing Chichen Itza is a must for your Mexican holiday!

Temple of Warriors in Chichen Itza.

Itinerary for Chichen Itza Equinox Event Tour            

Ready to experience the the equinox at Chichen Itza for yourself? We’ve gathered everything you need to know.

Guests are picked up from their hotels by bus around 7 am in the morning. The first stop is at Selva Maya Cenote, where you will have time for a swim to cool off and explore earth’s natural beauty.

It is no secret that after spending time in the water, you always want to eat something because you have worked up an appetite, so the next stop will be a restaurant at 12:30 for lunch, where both a Mexican and an international buffet will be served.

After everyone has eaten a hearty and delicious meal, the most interesting part of the tour will be arriving at Chichen Itza at 2:15 to enjoy a 2.5 hour guided tour!

After the tour at 4:45 pm, guests can enjoy the light and sound effects of the equinox. Once all the magic has been absorbed and the glory has been embraced, there will be a departure from the archaeological area at 5:30 pm for the return journey.

Note that this will be a full day tour. Drop off time at the hotel will be between 9-10:30 pm.

Temple of the Bearded Man at the end of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza.

Visiting Mexico and Cancun will be wonderful any time of the year, but seeing the equinox really is an unbeatable experience. We hope this article has helped to explain the beautiful phenomenon and inspired you to visit Chichen Itza during the equinox to see the magic for yourself!


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