Archive for January, 2011

State of Yucatan Releases Master Plan for Chichen Itza

January 6th, 2011 by ejalbright

Last year the state of Yucatan purchased the archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, the land upon which rests all the famous monuments — El Castillo, the Great Ball Court, the Temple or Warriors. Late last month the state announced what it intended to do as the new property owner, along with its comprehensive plan for tourism for next five years and beyond. has published an extensive article on the “Plan Maestro Chichen Itza” (“Chichen Itza Master Plan”) and over the next few days I’ll be examining pieces of that plan and an analysis of its impact on the future of the state and region.

But for now, read about the plan in this article written by occasional AmericanEgypt contributor Stephen Fry. See you tomorrow.

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Construction Begins on Museum Near Chichen Itza

January 5th, 2011 by ejalbright

Design of Palacio de la Civilizacion Maya

Over the holidays the impoverished Maya town of Yaxcaba a few kilometers from Chichen Itza received a Christmas present, the start of construction of the Palacio de la Civilizacion Maya (Palace of the Maya Civilization), a museum dedicated to the ancient, present, and future indigenous culture of Yucatan.

The “gift” will not be unwrapped until spring 2012, when the first phase will be opened to the public.

Two days after the start of construction, the director of the state agency overseeing the project gave reporters in Mexico City a preview of what exactly will be going into the museum.

There will be a collection of archaeological objects never before seen by the public, said Jorge Esma Bazan, director of the state agency Cultur. Many of these pieces have been excavated in recent years at Chichen Itza, he said, and even their existence has to date not been published.

Other relics will come from the stores of the Museo de Antropologia (Anthropology Museum) in Merida.

The museum will be built taking advantage of the topography of Yaxcaba, constructed around a cenote (sinkhole) and a ceiba tree, two features that figure heavily in Maya cosmology.
One of the most interesting sections of the museum will be space devoted to Mexican archaeologists and specialists, who will be behind large glass windows through which the public can watch them work.

For more details about the state’s plans for the Palacio de la Civilizacion Maya, click HERE to see the wire-service story (in Spanish).

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Tourism to Archaeological Sites Up from 2009 Flu Scares

January 4th, 2011 by ejalbright

Blame it on the flu. Officials at INAH, the federal agency that oversees Mexico’s archaeological sites and museums reported that attendance plummeted in 2009, but much of those losses were restored in 2010.

In 2009 some 6.9 million visitors toured archaeological ruins in Mexico, as compared to 11.2 million in 2008. INAH estimates that in 2010, once all the data is in, will show there were almost 10 million visitors.

Tourism to Chichen Itza was severely affected by the flu scare. In 2007, the site was declared a wonder of the world, and more than a million persons visited that year. In 2009, attendance fell to 869,525.

The INAH report did break out its estimates for Chichen Itza attendance in 2010, but the state of Yucatan did report earlier in the year that attendance in September and October was down by more than half. However, this is the rainy season in Yucatan and typically the slowest time for tourism.

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Happy New Year! Also, ‘Idiot Abroad’ Comes to US Television

January 3rd, 2011 by ejalbright

Although this blog has been dormant for a few weeks, it’s not for lack of activity on the Chichen Itza front. Sometime over the next week or two I will be publishing a special report on the State of Yucatan’s Chichen Itza Master Plan that was released last month.

Dr. Stephen Fry, who has written the occasional article for, covered the announcement of the Master Plan in Merida, Yucatan, and has an article on it that will appear on Once that goes up, I’ll put up my report on this wide-ranging initiative that will affect Chichen Itza and Yucatan tourism for decades to come.

In other news, British comedian Ricky Gervais has announced that “An Idiot Abroad,” a documentary series starring sidekick Karl Pilkington, will air on US television on the Science Channel beginning Jan. 22. The premise has Pilkington traveling the globe to visit the so-called Wonders of the World. The series aired in the UK on the Sky Network last fall.

You can read a few quotes from Karl’s visit HERE.

Karl Pilkington at Chichen Itza Photograph: Rich Hardcastle (from The Guardian)

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