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Chichén Itzá To Open At Night To Showcase Viral “Lunar Snake” Light Phenomena

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Mexico’s top cultural tourism attraction continues to provide new ways for visitors to experience ancient Meso-American culture and civilization.

Chichen itza at night with the stars

One of the most well-known and impressive occurrences at Chichén Itzá is the “snake of light.” Each spring and fall equinox, the sun reflects against the Pyramid of Kukulkan, creating the illusion of a snake slithering down its walls.

However, far less well known is the “lunar snake,” videos of which recently spread across social media.

At night, weeks after the “snake of light” descended the walls, a new snake emerged, created by the moonlight above.

In response to the social media attention, Marco Antonio Santos Rodriguez, Director of Chichén Itzá Archaeological Zone, said visitors would observe this phenomenon before his term as director is up.

According to Santos Rodriguez, “the carrying capacity of these places is reduced, but tourists would be able to access it, perhaps with a prior reservation.”

chichen itza

He said that there are various other ongoing projects to improve touristic experiences.

Santos Rodriguez stated they are particularly close to reopening sunrise and sunset activities in Chichén Itzá, which he thinks would give visitors a better understanding of prehispanic culture and lifestyle.

While most tourists visit during the day, Santos Rodriguez hopes these new activities can help “us remember that people lived in this city day and night.”

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chichen itza site

The Lunar Snake

The lunar snake is a light phenomenon in which moonlight reflects off the Kukulkan Pyramid in silver triangles, which move with the moon to form the image of a snake.

The astrological-archaeological event represents Mayan culture’s dualism between the sun and the moon.

When the snake of light arrives at the spring solstice, it comes to fertilize the Mayab, which means the “land of the few and the privileged” in Mayan.

According to Santos Ramirez, the exact meaning of the light show is still up for debate.

“There are still many hypotheses and theories that have not been proven,” he said, “but surely the prehispanic Mayans observed the same nocturnal beauty and must have given it a relevant meaning.”

Chichen Itzá at sunset

Other Reasons To Visit Chichén Itzá

Even if you cannot see the snake of light or the lunar snake, there are plenty of reasons that Chichén Itzá is the most visited archaeological park in all of Mexico, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UNESCO writes the monuments of Chichén Itzá “are among the undisputed masterpieces of Mesoamerican architecture because of the beauty of their proportions, the refinement of their construction and the splendor of their sculpted decorations.”

Serpent and Chichen itzá at sunset

The Pyramid of Kukulkan

The most recognizable of these monuments is the Pyramid of Kukulkan, also known as the castle,  which towers over the ancient city from almost 80 feet above.

traveler chichen itza clap

The pyramid is the location of the snake of light and the lunar snake, but it is worth seeing even without the light shows.

The Ball Game Court

At Chichén Itzá, tourists get to walk the path of ancient Mayan athletes at the ball game court.

Historians do not yet understand the famous game’s rules, but they can gather that players used their hips and thighs to move the ball through the court.

mayan ball game

The court’s acoustic effect is another bewildering triumph of Mayan architecture.

The court is 225 by 545 feet. However, the acoustics allow for a whisper from one end to be heard clearly from the opposite side.

These unique features make Chichén Itzá a must-see for history and architecture buffs.

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