It is amazing to realize how advanced the science of the Maya culture was centuries before our modern calendar even started. One of the chief areas of scientific study was astronomy, which linked into their most famous creation – the Mayan calendar.
In order to study the stars, there was a need for a place that would be elevated above the canopy of the forest that covers the Yucatan plain where Chichen Itza is located. The observatory is built on a multi-level plateau with a cylindrical tower atop it. The building is known as “El Caracol” (the Snail – in Spanish) which is a reference to the circular stairs that lead from the lower tower to the upper observation tower. The upper tower has slit windows that are specially aligned to observe the planet Venus and the summer and winter solstice of the Sun.
Looking at the partially ruined tower with its domed roof, makes you think of a modern observatory with a high-powered telescope poking out. Though the Maya did not have telescopes, they had a fantastic knowledge of the movements within the heavens and were able to calculate astronomical events with great accuracy. Seeing these sites and thinking back on what this civilization was capable of is truly awe inspiring!
El Caracol (The Observatory)
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm @ f/10 – 1/2000 sec – ISO 400