East route - Land of marvels
El Castillo, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World
Start be taking the Merida-Cancun highway about 120 km (74 miles) to the tollbooth exit for Piste, the town next to Chichen Itza. This site is world famous for its amazing ancient constructions and especially for the descent of the plumed serpent, Kukulkan, down the main staircase every Spring and Fall equinox.
The ancient Maya calculated the orientation of the Pyramid of Kukulkan so that a shadow descends the staircase on these days, simulating the shape of a serpent. Other colossal structures at the site include the Ball Court, the Tzompantli, the Observatory, the Thousand Columns Group, the House of Jaguars and the imposing Sacred Cenote. A basic tour of Chichen Itza takes at least three hours.
To cool off after a hot day touring the site, stop by the Ik?kil cenote about 5 km (3 miles) from Chichen Itza on the federal highway to Valladolid. A true beauty among the cenotes of Yucatan, it forms part of the Ik?kil Eco-archaeological Park and Villas.
On the way back to Merida, take a side trip to Izamal, a magical town characterized by the ochre color of all the historic downtown buildings. Impossible to miss in the center of town is the San Antonio de Padua monastery, which has the largest atrium in Latin America, and make a point of climbing up the nearby Kinich Kak Moh pyramid, the tallest in Yucatan at 35 m (115ft.).
Before entering Merida, stop at the Hacienda Teya Restaurant, just 2 km ( miles) outside the city, to enjoy excellent regional cuisine in a truly traditional setting; the perfect way to finish off a trip through a land of marvels.