Take An Armchair Tour Of Mexico's Famous Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza pyramid, Mexico

Photo: Screenshot via Google Streetview

The Mayan calendar ends on Friday, and some people believe that means the world will come to an end.The descendants of the ancient Maya people, however, don’t actually believe in the pending apocalypse.

Regardless, the ancient Maya world is in the spotlight. The Maya built great cities around Central America, and today you can see traces of the pre-Columbian civilisation in their ruins in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico.

Google Street View captured the great Mayan ruins in Mexico, allowing the world to explore the grand pyramids, ball courts, and temples without leaving their chairs. Some of the featured destinations include the storied ruins of Teotihuacan, Palenque and Chichén Itzá.

This series is part of the Google Wonders Project, an initiative by Google that documents important archaeological sites and monuments around the world.

This 82-foot square-shaped pyramid has four stairways, one on each side, which each have 91 steps. When you combine all of the steps with the top platform you get a total of 365, which represents all the days of the year. You can't climb the steps today though.

The Estadio del Juego de Pelota (the main ball court) is a wide open space where the ancient Maya used to play a ball game called pok-a-tok. The goal of this two-team game was for players to knock a hard ball through one of two stone rings placed high on the wall using anything but their hands or feet.

The Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors) got its name from the rows of carved columns depicting warriors lined up in front of it.

The Tzompantli (Temple of the Skulls) got its name from the walls which are adorned with carvings of skulls.

La Iglesia (The Church) is one of the oldest buildings in Chichén Itza. Intricate carvings of animals—armadillo, crab, snail, tortoise—adorn the structure.

Located about 31 miles from Mexico City, the ancient civilisation of Teotihuacan is believed to once have been home to almost 200,000 people, making it one of the largest cities in the ancient world. Settlement is believed to have begun around 200 B.C.

Source: Met Museum

At the peak of its development (from AD 300-600), the city stretched out over 36 km squared (14 square miles). Today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Source: UNESCO

The city was constructed on a grid. The primary north-south avenue is called Calzada de Los Muertos (Street of the Dead). Many of the large pyramids, including the Pyramid of the Sun (at the northern end) and the Pyramid of the Moon are located on this wide avenue.

Source: Met Museum

The Pyramid of the Sun is the third-largest pyramid in the world, after the Great Pyramid of Cholula near Puebla, Mexico, and the Pyramid of Cheops near Cairo, Egypt. Each side of the base is 722 feet long, and it's about 213 feet high.

Source: Frommer's

The Pyramid of the Moon is another large pyramid made of rough stone.

La Ciudadela is a large sunken plaza that's home to the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and the Temple of Quetzalcóatl.

Source: Frommer's

The Palenque ruins, located in the state of Chiapas, date back to about 100 BC, when the ancient Maya lived and worked here. The city began to decline around the 8th century and was slowly consumed by the jungle. The Spanish explorers rediscovered the site in the 1500s, but today it still feels like it's shrouded in jungle foliage.

Source: Maya Ruins

Palenque is one of the most visited ruins in Mexico.

The Temple of the Inscriptions, named for its inscribed panels inside is about about 90 feet high. On top of the platform is a summit temple which is another 35 feet high. The temple is a funerary monument.

Source: Maya Ruins

El Palacio (The Palace) is a a complex of several connected buildings that house sculptures and carvings.

Source: Maya Ruins

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