Temple of a Thousand Warriors

The Temple of a Thousand Warriors, also simply called the Temple of the Warriors, is part of the Chichen Itza pre-Columbian archaeological site of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, most notably Mayan and Toltec peoples. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Chichen Itza consists of a complex of ancient structures, including pyramids, that archaeologists continue studying to get a sense of the daily lives and religion of the people who lived there before exploration. The Temple of a Thousand Warriors is one the buildings that has withstood the ravages of time and environmental changes. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre recognizes Chichen Itza for historic significance.

Located on the northern section of Chichen Itza and northeast of El Castillo, the Temple of a Thousand Warriors sits on top of a three-tiered pyramid with distinct architectural features which represent the combined efforts of Mayan and Toltec civilizations. The two lower tiers of the pyramid were actually older temples with monuments dedicated to ancient gods.

The temple has 200 square columns surrounding the base of the temple, each column showcasing carvings that represent warriors of the Toltec civilization that once lived in the area. Though many of the columns have deteriorated over time, visitors still see the remnants of paint that covered then and even feel the faint impressions of the carved images that represent the soldiers. In addition to the 200 exterior columns, the Temple of a Thousand Warriors has other columns in its colonnade referred to as the Plaza of a Thousand Columns. According to American Egypt, it is believed a thatched roof once sat atop the columns.

The temple also has a staircase that leads to a sculpture of a large Chaac-Mool located in front of two carved pillars dedicated to Kukulcan, serpent heads with opened mouths and rattles pointing skyward. This famous sculpture features a human figure reclining and holding a bowl on his stomach as if giving an offering. His head is turned to the side in almost a right angle, looking slightly heavenward. American Egypt says the two carved pillars show how the Toltec people influenced the Mayans. Chaac-Mool sculptures and stone statues appear throughout Mexico, thought to be a representation of an ancient god of the same name.

The outer wall of the temple has more stone carvings of Kukulcan coming out of a serpents mouth and a the hooked nose of the rain god Chaac. Next to the sculpture of Chaac-Mool, the Kukulcan shows up in other Mexico and Central America locations. At the Chichen Itza archaeological site, the Kukulcan appears at temple of El Castillo’s portico and the Upper Temple of the Jaguar, which overlooks the Great Ball Court.

As one of the remaining structures at the Chichen Itza, the Temple of a Thousand Warriors stands as a monument to ancient Toltec and Mayan cultures. It is an impressive symbol of the people’s architectural technology of the time and the way they honored their gods. It has become one of the most recognizable monuments in Mesoamerica and continues to fascinate visitors and archaeologists who go to the area.