MEXICO CITY, May 23, 2005"” Mexico's renowned archaeological site Chichen-Itza in Yucatan State is one of 21 finalists to become one of the new Seven World Wonders. The Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation is revising the original seven ancient wonders of the world, since only one "” the pyramids of Egypt "” still exists today.
The organization compiled more than 19 million votes cast online and over the phone to create the finalist list. The 21 finalists include such sites as the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; the Alhambra in Granada, Spain; Angkor in Cambodia; Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the Colosseum in Rome, Italy; the Statue of Liberty in New York, USA; and the Easter Island statues in Chile.
Online and phone-in votes received through the first half of 2007 will be tallied to select the new Seven World Wonders. The results will be announced on July 7, 2007 "“ 07/07/07 "“ during a live, worldwide telecast.
For more information and for voting instructions, visit www.new7wonders.com.Â
Wonderful Chichen-Itza dazzles visitors
It is for good reason that Chichen-Itza, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, is included in the finalist list for the new Seven World Wonders. The sacred site is considered to have been one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Yucatan peninsula, and today is one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in Mexico.
Today Chichen-Itza is the most visited archaeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula.Â Many tourists add a day trip to their vacation to travel to the site, located approximately two hours away from Cancun and two and a half hours from Merida.
The site's main attractions include El Castillo, or the Pyramid of the Serpent God Kukulkan, a magnificent pyramid topped by a temple, to which thousands of people flock every spring and fall equinox to witness a shadow depicting the god slither down it. Visitors can also explore the sacbes, white limestone pathways used by the ancient Mayans.
Its immense ruins are surrounded by lush green vegetation, underground rivers, natural wells and limestone that the Mayans used to construct their magnificent buildings.Â
The people behind Chichen-Itza
Although many peoples left their mark on Chichen-Itza during its nearly thousand-year history, Chichen-Itza is really a tale of two cities: one that was ruled by the Mayans from the sixth to the tenth centuries, and the other a Toltec-Mayan city that emerged in 1000 A.D.
Chichen-Itza's diverse influences are evident in its varied architecture and elaborate ceremonial centers, which were built without metal tools and are ripe with cosmological symbolism. The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico make Chichen-Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatan.
The influence of the Toltec empire was felt in all parts of central and eastern Mexico. Appearing in central Mexico during the 10th century A.D., and reaching nearly 40,000 inhabitants, the Toltecs established their central city of Tula, dominating the center of Mexico for nearly 300 years until the arrival of the Aztecs.
The most famous civilization in the Yucatan peninsula, however, was the Mayan.Â Flourishing from 300 A.D. to 900 A.D., the Mayans invented a sophisticated writing system comprised of phonetic symbols and pictographs.Â It is also believed that the Mayans invented the concept of "zero" a thousand years before the Europeans adopted it from the Orient.
The Mayan's knowledge of astrology was impressive.Â They developed two calendars based on a solar system and rituals, and could predict eclipses and measure the movements of the moon and Venus with close to perfect accuracy.
In addition to Chichen-Itza, the Mayans left many other reminders of their great civilization, with most ruins found in the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Chiapas and Campeche, conveniently located just a short distance from many major tourist attractions.
Palenque, Tonina, Yaxchilan, Coba, Tulum, Xcaret, Kabah and Sayil are some of the most frequented Mayan sites.
About the Mexico Tourism Board
The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico's tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.Â Â