Photo of Serpent Shadow descending staircase, Spring Equinox at El Castillo, Kukulcan Pyramid, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.
Thousands of people gather during the Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza to witness the effect on El Castillo Pyramid of the sunlight creating the shadow of a giant serpent descending the staircase of the Pyramid of Kukulcan.
The Temple of Kukulcan (El Castillo), Chichen Itza, Mexico is the Mayan name for the Feathered Serpent God also known as Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs.
El Castillo Pyramid (The Castle pyramid) has special astronomical significance and layout. Each face of the pyramid has a stairway with ninety-one steps, which together with the shared step of the platform at the top; add up to 365, the number of days in a year. These stairways also divide the nine terraces of each side of the pyramid into eighteen segments, representing the eighteen months of the Mayan calendar. The pyramid's design reflects the equinoxes and solstices of our solar year in a spectacular game of light and shadow. During the equinoxes, the setting sun casts a shadow of a serpent on the northern steps of the pyramid.
El Castillo (castle in Spanish) sheds light on the Mayans impressive astronomical knowledge. It is, in reality, a solar calendar. There are 91 steps on each side and 1 for the roof/altar. Each day's shadows fall upon a different step.
The Mayans succeeded in an almost impossible mission with the completion of their structures at Chichen Itza. A poetic combination of form, style, function, religion, philosophy, mathematics and geometry. A true symbiosis of all of their intelligence and art in one location, to be studied and admired by all that visit. By far the most impressive aspect of the Pyramid of Kukulkan is it's relationship with the sun and how it reflects the equinoxes and solstices of our solar year with stunning accuracy. Before one can fully understand the workings of the Shadow of the Equinox, a few basics
Location of picture - Chichen Itza Yucatan Mexico
picture id: 004_mexchia5