Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period. The archaeological site is located in Tinúm Municipality, Yucatán State, Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic through the Terminal Classic and into the early portion of the Postclassic period. The site exhibits a multitude of styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, the ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property, and the sites stewardship is maintained by Mexicos Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. The land under the monuments had been privately owned until 29 March 2010, Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico, an estimated 1.4 million tourists visit the ruins every year. The Maya name Chichen Itza means At the mouth of the well of the Itza and this derives from chi, meaning mouth or edge, and chen or cheen, meaning well. Itzá is the name of an group that gained political. One possible translation for Itza is enchanter of the water, from its, sorcerer, the name is spelled Chichén Itzá in Spanish, and the accents are sometimes maintained in other languages to show that both parts of the name are stressed on their final syllable. Other references prefer the Maya orthography, Chichen Itza and this form preserves the phonemic distinction between ch and ch, since the base word cheen begins with a postalveolar ejective affricate consonant. The word Itza has a high tone on the a followed by a glottal stop, evidence in the Chilam Balam books indicates another, earlier name for this city prior to the arrival of the Itza hegemony in northern Yucatán. While most sources agree the first word means seven, there is debate as to the correct translation of the rest. This earlier name is difficult to define because of the absence of a standard of orthography. This name, dating to the Late Classic Period, is recorded both in the book of Chilam Balam de Chumayel and in texts in the ruins. Chichen Itza is located in the portion of Yucatán state in Mexico. The northern Yucatán Peninsula is arid, and the rivers in the interior all run underground, there are two large, natural sink holes, called cenotes, that could have provided plentiful water year round at Chichen, making it attractive for settlement. Of the two cenotes, the Cenote Sagrado or Sacred Cenote, is the most famous, according to post-Conquest sources, pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac. Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the Cenote Sagrado from 1904 to 1910, a study of human remains taken from the Cenote Sagrado found that they had wounds consistent with human sacrifice
El Castillo dominates the center of the archaeological site.
A feathered serpent sculpture at the base of one of the stairways of El Castillo.