Authorities give OK to open new sections of Chichén Itzá

Ancient carved stone columns in Chichen Viejo. Photo: File
Ancient carved stone columns in Chichén Viejo. Photo: File

Mexico’s Institue of History and Anthropology has announced that it will open a new section of Chichén Itzá to the public in 2022.

The area, known as “Chichén Viejo” or old Chichén, features several ancient structures including an archway and a temple full of phallic figures. 

Though the existence of these structures has been well documented for decades, authorities have been hesitant to open them to the public, citing concerns over their ability to adequately supervise large numbers of tourists over such an extensive area. 

This section of the archaeological site will only be accessible via a prior reservation. Authorities have not specified how many visitors will be admitted each day, but the number is sure to be dwarfed by the thousands of tourists who visit structures such as the famous pyramid of Kukulkaan or the Caracol observatory.  

Even with the opening of this new section, only about 3% of the ancient city of Chichén Itzá will be open to the public. In antiquity, the city covered an area of over 20 square kilometers or seven square miles. Structures belonging to the ancient capital of the Itzaes are visible in fields far away from the archaeological site and even on the grounds of other tourist attractions such as cenote Ik-Kil.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, drastically reduced amounts of tourism activity have resulted in the return of species of animals such as deer and toucans to the region, according to reports by tour guides at Chichén Itzá and locals in the nearby town of Piste.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.