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El Caracol

This ancient observatory helped shape the knowledge of Mayan civilization​


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El Caracol is a unique structure regarding architecture and science. Located at the pre-Columbian Maya site of Chichen Itza, El Caracol was an ancient observatory where Mayan astronomers studied changes in the sky. The Mayan viewed special significance in solstices, eclipses, and equinoxes, creating a calendar and way of life which followed the stars.

The name El Caracol means 'snail' in Spanish. It was given because of the spiral staircase inside the tower. The observatory dates back to AD 906, the Late Classic period of Mesoamerican chronology. The viewing tower rises above the surrounding vegetation providing the ancient astronomers with 360 degrees view. The alignment of some viewing windows seems to be aimed mainly on Venus, which was also significant to the Mayans.

El Caracol is open for public and can be visited at any time of the year.

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