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Articles > North America > Mexico > Chichen Itza Chosen as One of the New Seven Wonders of the World

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Chichen Itza Chosen as One of the New Seven Wonders of the World
The Mayan city of Chichen Itza, located in the Mexican state of Yucatan, was chosen as one of the "Seven New Wonders of the World" by approximately 100 million people around the globe, who cast their ballots by phone and Internet.

"The selection of Chichen Itza is recognition of the extremely vast and ancient historical and cultural heritage of Mexico, of which very few countries in the world can boast," said Francisco Lopez Mena, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board.

The announcement of Chichen Itza's selection by the New7Wonders Foundation was made during a spectacular ceremony at Lisbon's Stadium of Light.

The archaeological center of Chichen Itza, the most important Maya capital at the end of the classic period (750 to 1200 A.D.), was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

Chichen Itza, which in the Mayan language means "at the mouth of the well of the Itza," was one of the most important Mayan political, commercial and religious centers of the classic period, but it fell into decline after the emergence of Mayapan as the new focal point of regional power in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The city is home to several buildings that are remarkable both for their architectural design and their religious and scientific significance. Among these are the Temple of Kukulkan (Feathered Serpent), the Observatory, the Temple of the Warriors and the Sacred Cenote (Well of Sacrifice).

The Temple of Kukulkan, one of the tallest and most notable structures in Mayan architecture sits on a 55.5-meter wide rectangular platform and rises to a height of 24 meters. Each of its four sides has 91 steps and the platform that crowns the pyramid is considered the 365th step, meaning there is one for each day of the solar calendar.

During the spring and fall equinox (March and September), visitors can enjoy a breathtaking spectacle: a corner of the Temple of Kukulkan casts a shadow in the shape of a giant "feathered serpent" that appears to slither its way down the side of the North staircase with the sun's movement. This natural phenomenon of light and shadow is a unique experience that attracts visitors from all parts of the world.

The Observatory, also known as "El Caracol" (The Snail) for its stone spiral interior staircase, is a cylindrical building with a dome that was used as an astronomical observatory, with its doors aligned to view the spring equinox, the declinations of the Moon and other astronomical events that helped determine the complex but extremely exact Mayan calendar.

Other popular sites at Chichen Itza are the Great Ballcourt – which, measuring 168 meters long and 70 meters wide, is the largest that has been discovered in the region known as Mesoamerica – and the Sacred Cenote, a large sinkhole 60 meters in diameter from which great treasures have been recovered: rings, necklaces and objects of gold and jade.

Thanks to all the people who voted, Chichen Itza today is a new wonder of the world, considered an icon of universal importance for humanity. As a result of this global and democratic selection process, the world will know Mexico for one of its 173 archaeological jewels, tangible evidence of the plurality and ethnic richness of the country's past.

We invite the world to visit and enjoy this impressive treasure, a symbol of the archaeological wealth of the Mayan world.
About the Author
Erick Laseca works for Newlink Communications as public relations liaison for the Mexico Tourism Board in Chicago.
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