Chichén Itzá serpent returns for spring equinox

Chichen Itza's feathered "serpent." Photo: Getty
Chichén Itzá’s feathered “serpent.” Photo: Getty

The feathered serpent slithers down the temple at Chichén Itzá just twice a year, but he (or she) needs the sun to be shining.

Sometimes, the thousands of tourists who descend on the Temple of Kukulkán leave disappointed. Tourists endured one of those years in 2016, when unrelenting clouds prevented the illusion.

But this year, nearly 12,000 onlookers cheered as the optical effect, constructed by ancient Maya, came off like a snake charm.

 

The snake appeared at on the temple’s staircase at 4:45 p.m., slithering until about 5, according to local media. Mild temperatures and clear skies were appreciated by the crowds. 

Tourists had little trouble entering the archaeological zone, according to one newspaper, reporting a lack of traffic jams that marred last year’s viewing.

The sun shines directly through the door of the Seven Dolls Temple in the Maya Ruins of Dzibilchaltún. File photo/Getty

The serpent will return to the temple in the fall equinox on Sept. 22.

The snake symbolizes Kukulcán, the feathered serpent god, returning to earth and heralding the spring planting and fall harvest seasons.

Earlier in the day, an estimated 3,000 people traveled to a smaller Mayan ruin, Dzibilchaltún, for a sunrise spectacle. Like at Chichén Itzá, the 2016 spring event was dampened by bad weather. 

Gates opened at 5:30 a.m., and just after 6, the sun rose in the middle of the Mayan arch which forms the entrance to the Temple of the Seven Dolls, which was angled to frame the sun perfectly on the spring and fall equinox. It was a perfect morning for the dramatic beginning to the day.

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