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Chichén Itzá: Plan of the Castillo by Landa (1566)


Fray Diego de Landa, in his Relación de las cosas de Yucatán written in the1560s, provided a sketch plan of the Castillo showing its orientation to east (oriente) and west (poniente), and an outline of the temple structure on top. He describes it as a steep and formidable mound:

“This structure has four stairways looking to the four directions of the world, and 33 ft. wide, with 91 steps to each that are killing to climb....When I saw it there was at the foot of each side of the stairway the fierce mouth of a serpent, curiously worked from a single stone.” The stone serpent sculptures remain in place at the bottom of the main (north) staircase.

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[Fig.1: Plan of the Castillo at Chichén Itzá by Fray Diego de Landa (Relación, orig. 1566; 1973)]

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