Chichén Itzá’s spring equinox illusion will stream live on Facebook

Steps and snake heads at the bottom of the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza, in Yucatan province in Mexico a Unesco site
The pandemic has closed Chichén Itza during the spring equinox, but the serpent’s descent will be live on Facebook. Photo: Getty

The feathered serpent is ready for its closeup.

With Chichén Itzá closed for three days as a health precaution, tourist officials are streaming its famous spring equinox phenomenon live.

Yucatán’s world-famous archaeological site became off-limits Saturday as a precaution against coronavirus spread. The action turns away the thousands of visitors who normally visit the iconic pyramid during the spring equinox to see “the descent of Kukulkán.” It’s at precisely this time of year that the sun shines at an angle to create the illusion of a serpent slithering down the side of the temple.

The Temple of Kukulkán at Chichén Itzá did not disappoint in 2018 when the feathered serpent appeared. Photo: Getty

The broadcast takes place on the Cultur Yucatán Facebook page starting around 4:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, March 21. Streaming the event will not only prevent a super-spreader event but will open the spectacle to anyone around the world with an internet connection.

The site reopens 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, by which time the illusion will have passed. Face masks will be required and attendance is limited.

Steps and snake heads lie at the bottom of the Pyramid of Kukulkán at Chichén Itzá. Photo: Getty

In 2007, Chichén Itzá’s Temple of Kukulkán was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World after a global vote.

Chichén Itzá is the most visited archaeological site in Yucatán and one of its biggest tourist attractions. The site reopened to the public on Sept. 22, 2020, but closed this weekend when large crowds would have been expected.

The serpent — symbolizing the feathered serpent god Kukulkán returning to earth and heralding the spring planting and fall harvest seasons — returns in September for the fall equinox.

The equinox will also be filmed at Dzibilchaltún, where the sun appears directly through the main door of “La Casa de la Siete Muñecas” or the House of the Seven Dolls. The temple was given that name because of the offering of seven stone human figures that were found inside. This site is closed only on Sunday, as are Ek Balam, Mayapán, Uxmal, Xcambó and Izamal.

Learn more: Secret passageway discovered underneath Kukulkán Temple

Lee Steele

Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012.