It took nearly two years, but the nightly light-and-sound show at Chichén Itzá soon may be back.
The old light-and-sound show.
A lightning storm in 2012 destroyed the equipment that projected lights onto the monuments. Late last year tourism officials for the state of Yucatán, which owns the archaeological zone, announced that the program would return in April and if a report in the Diario de Yucatan is true, they appear to be close to keeping their pledge.
An early concept of the new show.
Technicians have been secretly testing the equipment at Chichén, the Diario reports. The project has been hush-hush because officials want to make its return a surprise.
Unlike the previous show, which flashed colored lights on the monuments in time with a narration track, this program will include animation projected onto the great pyramid El Castillo. According to the Diario, the audience will be transported back to the days of the ancient Maya, and will see the feathered serpent god Kukulcan crawl down the side of the pyramid and a “doncella“–a virgin–sacrificed.
Expect state tourism officials to make an announcement about the resurrection of the nightly light-and-sound show soon.
A few years ago I sneaked into Chichen Itza at night with my late friend, Warren Thompson. Warren was the great grandson of Edward Herbert Thompson, who owned Chichen from 1894-1944.
Warren brought the biggest flashlight I’ve ever seen. As we walked around the archaeological zone, he would flick on the lamp and the powerful beam lit up an entire monument. The buildings at Chichen were never conceived to be shown this way, but the effect of the spotlight was awe-inspiring and made these monuments into something new and even more exotic. It was exhilarating as we walked from one monument to the next, until eventually security caught us and sent us on our way.
This spring everyone who visits Chichen Itza will soon have the same experience, as the state of Yucatan has announced it will begin night tours of the ancient city beginning in April.
Yesterday Yucatan Governor Rolando Zapata announced that design of a new light-and-sound show at Chichen Itza has been budgeted and is underway, and that the state will also be adding a night tour as well, according to a report in the Diario de Yucatan.
State Secretary of Tourism Saul Salazar Ancona told reporters that these new night enhancements, which will cost $50 million (Mexican) would be ready by April.
Ticket prices to enter Chichén Itzá will increase 10 pesos (75 cents US) beginning Jan. 1, 2014, El Financiero reports.
The current admission fee is 186 pesos (slightly more than $14 US), of which 130 pesos go to the State of Yucatan’s Patronato de las Unidades de Servicios Turísticos y Culturales (CULTUR) and 56 pesos to the federal agency that oversees the ruins, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). On Jan. 1, the state will increase it’s ticket price to 140 pesos, bringing the total price close to $15 US.
The increase also will be applied to entrance fees at Uxmal and Dzibulchaltun.
Since the state purchased the land under the archaeological zone, it has increased ticket prices every year.
Yanni, the New Age pianist from Greece, announced he will perform at Chichén Itzá in 2015 for a global television special.
Performing at historic landmarks is something Yanni does, having previously played concerts at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, the Taj Mahal in India, Red Square at the Kremlin in Moscow, and the Forbidden City in China.
Yanni announced the concert at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya when he was in area last week to perform a concert in Izamal. He was joined by Jorge Esma Bazan, former director of the Yucatecan state tourism agency Cultur, and now chief executive of International Maya Cultural Festival (FICMaya).
The show would also be recorded and material from it will be used to promote the archaeological and cultural resources of Yucatan, Esma Bazan said. When he was head of Cultur, Esma Bazan produced several shows at Chichén Itzá with other international acts, namely Placido Domingo, Sarah Brightman, and Elton John. These concerts all sold out, but provokedtremendouscontroversy.
Also, an announcement is no guarantee that Yanni will actually perform. Previously Esma Bazan released plans to hold concerts by Juan Gabriel and Paul McCartney, but neither of those shows materialized.
“I want to empower people and have them feel they are able to move mountains,” Yanni said. “Any place, any time, becomes significant for a show and influences the souls of the people. It is one thing to be in a room like this and another to be in an place such as Chichen Itza and Izamal. The music I play is then transformed.”
Here’s a clip of Yanni from his performance at the convent in Izamal:
A new and improved light-and-sound show will return nightly to Chichen Itza sometime in 2014, the Yucatan secretary of tourism promised this week.
The nightly program where colored lights would shine on the monuments in time to a narration about the ancient Maya was shut down last year after lightning damaged the equipment and after archaeologists complained of damage to ruins at Teotihuacan, which has a similar show. A few months later Jorge Esma Bazan, director of Yucatan’s Patronato Cultur department, announced he had hired French painter and video artist Xavier de Richemont to create an entirely new program that would be unveiled in 2013.
In last week’s announcement, Tourism Secretary Saúl Ancona Salazar made no mention of whether de Richemont would be involved, but said that $40 million MXN had been budgeted for a light and sound show that would use 3D technology. He said that the project, originated by the previous administration, was “quite robust” so the current administration has the project under review at INAH, the federal agency in charge of the Chichen Itza ruins.
It’s like deja vu all over again. Chichen Itza has been sold, this time to the federal government.
Back in February, American Egypt received word that Carmen Barbachano y Gomez Rul, owner of the Hacienda Chichen and extensive property south had sold what is known as Chichen Viejo, or old Chichen. These are a collection of ruins, many of them restored over the past decades, but are off limits to the general public. The rumor was that doña Carmen had sold the property for $200 million Mexican.
It turns out the rumor was true, if La Jornada, a Yucatecan periodical, is to be believed. The journal reported that in the waning days of the administration of President Felipe Calderon, the federal agency Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History, better known as INAH) paid doña Carmen almost $232 million (more than $18 million U.S.) for 99 hectares.
La Jornada wants to know why the purchase was never made public, and by what legal mechanism it was executed, for federal law limits how much can be paid for private property. According to the publication, INAH used a special fund, Fideinah, created for the purpose of purchasing property related to national patrimony.
At one time the fund was earmarked to purchase the main archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, but when a review of federal law uncovered that the government could only pay $8 million Mexican, the plan was abandoned. Instead the state of Yucatan purchased for $220 million Mexican the main archaeological zone, which includes the area open to tourists.
The transaction between INAH and doña Carmen closed on Oct. 17, 2012, according to records uncovered by La Jornada.
With the new year the price of tickets to get into Chichen Itza has increased to 187 234 pesos for non-Mexicans.
The increase is five pesos over last year. Based on current exchange rates, this means citizens of the United States and Canada will be paying the equivalent of more than $14 $18.33 to enter the archaeological zone.
The Diario de Yucatan reports that Chichen Itza is being swarmed by visitors, more than 2,000 per day, and that lines getting into the archaeological zone are long. According to state officials one reason for the long lines is that the computer systems are old making the sale of each ticket take longer.
The light-and-sound show at Chichen Itza, which has been suspended for several weeks, will not return until an unspecified date in 2013, according to Jorge Esma Bazan, director of Yucatan’s Patronato Cultur.
The state agency, which shares management of Chichen Itza with federal agency INAH, announced that it is spending $25 million Mexican to produce a new show that will be created by French painter and video artist Xavier de Richemont. De Richemont recently produced a light show that is project on the new Museo de Maya Mundo (Museum of the Maya World) in Mérida, the capital city of Yucatan state. Photos of the museum opening accompany this article, and you can click here for a video of show.
The French artist plans to show visitors the culture of the Maya world by projecting on the pyramid pictures of gold, rain, and geometric patterns. The show would be projected twice each night and a separate fee will be charged to see it.
Last night Yucatan Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco was first in line to witness the opening of the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida (Great Museum of the Maya), which she said would be one of her major legacies of her term in office, which ends this month.
The governor cut the ribbon and began a colorful pageant that included musical performance, dancing, light shows and, of course, speeches.
Over the past few weeks exhibits previously displayed or stored in the Museo de Antropologia y Historia (Museum of Anthropology and History) have been moved to the new museum, located on four kilometers north next to the city’s convention center.
The new museum which celebrates the Maya, both ancient and modern, will be free for the next 30 days.
The evening light-and-sound show at Chichen Itza has yet to return after being suspended in August.
The Yucatan government which puts on the show has yet to say why it suspended the show in the first place, but others are talking. According to the Diario de Yucatan, the rumor is that restoration and cleaning work conducted by INAH, where some 90 men have been cleaning the great pyramid, El Castillo, is the reason the show has been stopped.