After the frenzy surrounding the impending end of the world, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, it seems we are still here and functioning! Though the glory of the Mayan civilization no longer shines, it is still possible to see a glimmer of its greatness in modern day Mexico..
Chichen Itza was a Pre-Columbian metropolis that dominated the northern Maya lowlands for 600 years beginning early in the 5th century. One of the largest of the Mayan cities, the site was virtually lost until 1843, when John Lloyd Stephens visited the site and wrote a book chronicling his quest.
Located in the eastern Yucatan Peninsula, the site is visited by more than 1.2 million tourist per year. It is a short bus ride from the beaches of Cancun on the Mexican Riviera.
The jungle has been cleared from several massive buildings in the city, as well as El Castillo, a major temple pyramid that dominates the town plaza. There's also the Juego de Pelota, or great ball court, where the Maya played a game that seemed to be a cross between modern lacrosse and open warfare!
Other major structures were El Caracol, an observatory temple, and Las Monjas. The latter was most likely a government building, but the Spanish called it the Nunnery because it reminded them of similar convent structures in Europe.
Checking out the sites of Chichen Itza, while enjoying some winter beach time, simply entails catching a Delta Airlines flight from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta down to Cancun. Prices for round trip flights are around $400 and any of the major beach hotels can arrange a bus tour to Chichen Itza.