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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

INAH denies spotlight to the great Kukulkán during summer solstice yet again

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Tourists, guides, and service providers are upset that INAH decided to close Chichén Itzá on its busiest day of the year. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Just like last year, and the year before that, the great Kukulkán is preparing for his descent down Chichén Itzá’s most famous pyramid, but no adoring pilgrims will be there to see him.

This is despite the fact that Chichén Itzá is now operating at normal capacity, INAH authorities have decided to close the site down on March 20 – 22 during the summer solstice.

A long line stretches outside Chichén Itzá’s INAH ticketing office on March 1, 2002. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The decision has raised serious concerns and even anger among many tour guides, hotel administrators, and other service providers. 

“It’s easy for bureaucrats in Mexico City to make this call, it does not affect them, they get their paycheck no matter what. But for people who make their living through tourism this is yet another terrible blow,” said a licensed Chichén Itzá tour guide who preferred to remain anonymous. 

During the spring equinox and fall solstice, the sun strikes the northwest corner of the temple of  Kukulkán, also known as El Castillo, creating the illusion of the descent of the feathered serpent in shadow form.

The spectacle routinely attracts thousands of visitors, including new-age practitioners who believe the event has some kind of cosmic significance.

Earlier: Chichén Itzá hikes entrance fee yet again

Merchants selling their wares at Chichén Itzá say that the closure is likely to cost them dearly. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Another popular archaeological site to observe the summer solstice is Dzibilchaltún, where the sun appears directly through the main door of La Casa de la Siete Muñecas or the House of the Seven Dolls.

However, due to a now almost year-long closure resulting from a land dispute, Dzibilchaltún will also remain closed. 

Just like in 2021, it had been previously reported that small numbers of tourists would be allowed into Chichén Itzá to view the phenomena. But it would appear that a disagreement regarding safety between the INAH and CULTUR got in the way.

In 2022, Chichén Itzá became the most visited archaeological site in Mexico for the first time, easily beating out Teotihuacan, near Mexico City. This is likely explained by Chichén Itzá’s proximity to Cancún and the Riviera Maya.

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