The Pyramid of Kukulcan (also know as El Castillo, a name given by the Spanish Conquistadors) is the central pyramid of Chich’en Itza, it was built over a pre-existing temple between 800 and 900 AD.
It is the biggest pyramid in Chich’en Itza; at its base 53.3 meters wide on all four sides. It towers above the other monuments at 24 meters tall with a 6 meter temple on top of the highest platform.
Before access to the throne room of the pyramid was restricted, you could climb to the top and, on a clear day, see the top of the grand pyramid at the nearby ruin site of Ek Balam.
The Mesoamerican fascination with, and knowledge of, math and astronomy shines when examining the details of its architecture. Each of the four sides has ninety-one steps ascending it, 364 steps total, with the temple topping the pyramid considered an addition step totaling 365, each step representing a day in the calendar.
Additionally, the pyramid’s nine stages, bisected by a staircase on each side, represent the eighteen months of the Mayan Calendar year.
The pyramid was built to be a physical representation of the Mayan Calendar (the same calendar that predicted the end of the world in 2012), while its orientation, slightly North East, is believed to have been calculated in order to create the phenomenon know as the “Descent of Kukulcan”.
For this activity, we once again used specially-made blocks to build the pyramid. Students learned a little bit about the history (including the Mayans) and then worked in small groups to recreate this magnificent piece of history!