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The best place to experience the autumn equinox is at Dzibilchaltún

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The autumn equinox at Dzibilchaltún in all its glory. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The autumn equinox is here, and there’s no better place to witness it than Dzibilchaltún.

Thursday and Friday will be prime time to watch the sunrise at the famous Temple of the Seven Dolls. The Maya had an incredible knowledge of astronomy and built its columns to align perfectly with the rising sun twice a year — the spring and fall equinox.

Before the sun rose through the door of the Temple of the Seven Dolls, the moon shone brightly as if a prelude to what was to come. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Already this morning, the archaeological site drew a small crowd of early risers. This year, admittance to the site for the equinox is being limited to 250 people a day, so if you intend to go tomorrow make sure to be at the site no later than 5 a.m.

Despite several reports that entrance to Dzibilchaltún to view the equinox would be free, this was not the case. The cost was as normal, 85 pesos for residents of Yucatán and 185 pesos for everyone else. 

As the first rays of light began to project through the temple’s entrance, everyone began to prepare for that perfect shot. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The sun aligns precisely with a pair of east- and west-facing doors, illuminating the structure with a burst of light.

INAH employees advised visitors on how to get the best photos and keep order. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Dressed in traditional indigenous garb, dancers performed ceremonies at these and other sites, including the nearly 2,000-year-old sun pyramid of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City.

Standing in exactly the right place in front of the temple is important to catch the full effect of this astronomical phenomena. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Some visitors travel hundreds or thousands of miles to be there for the phenomena. “We’re here to steal a little bit of its energy,” said one past participant from Veracruz. Another said that the event “fills me with energy, fills me with strength, fills me with power, fills me with wisdom.”

People where not the only ones enjoying the show, as the rising sun brought with it flocks of birds including flycatchers and parrots.. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Dzibilchaltún, about 10 miles north of Mérida, is less well known than Chichén Itzá, and is a quieter alternative to the pyramid and its famous serpent.

Steps and snake heads at the bottom of the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichén Itzá. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Once the sun is up, there’s still plenty to see. Designated as a national park in 1987, Dzibilchantún covers an area of 5.39 kilometers.

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