Tag Archives: mayan city

Mayan Ruins Sketched

In sticking with black and white art prints, this week I’m sharing black and white sketches. The subject matter is Mayan Ruins and this series of sketches is of the ruins at Chichen Itza, Mexico (Wikipedia). I should have been an archeologist as I love exploring the architecture of ruins from a variety of prior civilizations. In the case of Chichen Itza, I have visited this site a couple of times and find the structures fascinating. Black and white works well with this subject matter as it highlights the details of the architecture.

The central focal point of the city is the pyramid (Temple of Kukulcan). I have had the pleasure of hiking up to the top during my first visit and the second time we went down there, it had been closed off to people walking up the stairs.

The next two sketches are of the Observatory…..

These last two sketches are of the Temple of a Thousand Warriors.

Climbing The Pyramid When You Could – El Castillo in Chichen Itza

Sepia Mayan Pyramid – El Castillo as it looks without people climbing it

Chichen Itza came up in a discussion recently about how you use to be able to climb the great stairs of the pyramid all the way to the top. I was fortunate enough to have done that very thing when you still could. I’m not sure of the specific year when I did the climb, but it was somewhere in the very early 2000’s. My wife and I were down there with a group of people from work (annual reward trip). We were staying in Cancun and took a chartered tour bus to Chichen Itza. I love history, architecture and ancient ruins, so I was in my element. Of course I was not without my camera and took a ton of shots of the different ruins, El Castillo being foremost in my shoot. I was fascinated from a photography aspect of pictures with people walking up the steps of this famous pyramid.

Fast forward to 2007 and we were back down there with some close friends and our respective families. My girls had heard about climbing this pyramid and couldn’t believe their father who has a fear of heights actually did it. Imagine their disappointment when we found out you could no longer climb the pyramid. Due to an unfortunate death to a falling tourist in late 2005 and to the damage being done by the sheer load of people trudging up and down those steps along with the graffiti left behind by those same people, it was no longer permitted.

“Chichen Itza” El Castillo the day I climbed to the top

Those pictures suddenly started taking on a new element for me as something that will not be seen again. As I worked with them for my gallery I kept getting this circa 1930’s vibe and Indiana Jones feel from them. Sepia popped into my head and after converting them decided to add another element of that old vibe with some texture. What came from that process is these three captures converted to what I think looks like an old Indiana Jones element from that era (of course I realize he wouldn’t be discovering anything new in a place that had tourist climbing pyramid steps, but my vision of this look didn’t care about such details).

“Walking Up The Pyramid”   you can see people coming down using my technique and people walking down like it wasn’t an issue….but you get the visual impact of how steep those stairs actually are.

Now you can’t leave without me telling you about the wonders of that climb. I have a fear of heights such as the edge of the Grand Canyon (edge only), glass elevators that take you up more than 10 stories….I have some tolerance….ledges on mountains to name a few. I knew climbing the stairs wouldn’t be an issue as you are looking at the structure. I didn’t have any issues climbing to the top and was a little cautious about walking around by the edge at the top….ok…I stayed pretty close to the walls of the structure you see up there. The view is incredible and I was fascinated by the placement of the different windows in the top structure. Truly forgetting about how far up I was, it was time to come back down. You have no idea just how really steep and narrow each of those steps are until you go back down. For me it was literally too much to try and walk back down those steps…one trip or miss-step and you will literally fall all the way down (which is unfortunately what happened to the tourist I mentioned above). The best way is to sit down and slide your backside down each step.

I have toured the site multiple times and have learned new things each time. For more information about Chichen Itza – Wikipedia Here.   Chichen Itza is located in the middle of the northern tier of the Yucatan Peninsula between Merida towards the Gulf of Mexico and Cancun on the Caribbean side. Thoughts?

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