This small pyramid, similar in design to the Castillo, is called Tomb of the High Priest since Herbert Thompson discovered a shaft leading from the floor of the temple to five superimposed graves and below that to a deep crypt carved in the underlying stone 15 meters below the base. The care taken to hide the ultimate crypt below five graves of lesser importance led to the speculation that the whole monument was the tomb of a very important high priest.
Thompson purchased the site of Chichén Itzá and made the exploration of its secrets his life's work
This Puuc styled structure, the Chichán Chob (small holes), also called the Red House because of traces of red stucco, was erected by the Maya during the Late Classic before the collapse of Maya authority and the subsequent Toltec-Itza take-over. Inscribed glyphs date it at 870 AD.
The Caracol, so named because of a circular staircase in the tower, is thought to have been an observatory even though there is no hard evidence to that effect. It located in the Puuc section of Chichén and it has some Puuc features but is attributed to the Toltecs for circular temples were usually dedicated to Quetzalcoatl outside the Maya area.
This massive Puuc styled structure, honeycombed with small rooms, was called "The Nunnery" by the Spanish because of its resemblance to a Spanish convent.
The Puuc style appears in this angled view of "The Nunnery".
And becomes quite evident in this side view of the same structure.
The Mayas had abandoned Chichén Itzá at the end of the 10th century and it was the turn of the Toltecs to let this great site fall into disrepair when Mayapan became supreme. But the Mayapan hegemony did not last, Princes revolted, the Cocom were put to death and the Peninsula broke up into 16 rival feudal states which, being divided, were no match for the Spanish.
Just before leaving Chichén Itza, here is a last view of the remarkable Kukulkan pyramid with all the tourists swarming over it.
From Chichén Itza, a comfortable bus brought me here late in the evening and a taxi took me to the Albergue de la Juventud. I had an 8 bed bunkroom all for myself for 9.50 $US.
I was not impressed by Cancun. It was noisy, busy and full of tourists. This is the "Monumento a la Historia de México".
The first building on the left is the Albergue de la Juventud right on the beach. A bargain at that price in Cancun.
Click here for a real time view of the beach further up in the centre of the hotel area.
I never thought I would get caught in such a crowd of tourists when I got on the bus for Tulum!
When all the Maya states had fallen to the Spanish,Tulum still persisted for another 75 years as an isolated islet protected by the impenetrable jungle.
The Temple of the Frescoes, constructed in several stages between 1400 and 1450 has elaborate decorations showing the three realms of the Maya universe, the dark underworld of the dead, the middle order of the living and the heavenly domain of the gods.
Structure 25 also known as the Great Palace had a fine stucco carving of a descending god.
Tulum was protected on three sides by a stone wall up to 7 metres thick and 5 metres high and by cliffs along the sea side except for this small beach overlooked by the "Plataforma del Caracol" on top of the rocky hill.
Here is a closer view of the Plataforma de Caracol.
On the other side of the beach is the Castillo flanked by the Temple of the Descending God on this side and the Temple of the Initial Series on the other (so named because the first series of glyphs on a stella gives the date).
Here is the Castillo viewed from the other side.
An iguana passed by so why not take a picture...
By some magic the tourists cleared for an instant, like clouds sometimes open to let the sun through, and I got a chance to take this picture of the Castillo and its flanking temples.
My 2001 trip was over, I had seen what I wanted and taken more than a thousand photos. Now it was time to head back for home to digest all the impressions I had gathered. It would take months to make some sense out of what I had seen of Cuba, of the Caribbean, of modern Central America and of the marvellous world of the Maya.