The vernal equinox in Mexico
In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth.
At the ruined temple city of Chichén Itzá, the creators of the El Castillo pyramid devised a quirk that would shine on for centuries longer than Mayan civilisation. Such is the pyramid’s architectural precision that during the equinox the morning and afternoon sun produces a light-and-shadow illusion
The genius Mayan architects built the El Castillo Pyramid in such a way that during the Spring Equinox the sunlight appears to be an enormous snake of sunlight that slithers down the stairs at the precise moment of the equinox, known as Kukulcan or the Feathered Serpent God.
In amongst the 40,000 Mexicans, tourists the media who gather for the event there’s also many white-robed sun worshippers, for whom the event is a spiritual occasion.
The spectacle is pretty top notch from whatever angle you view it, but the north side is usually the best. The site is located just a short distance from the Mexico city of Merida.
Essentials: Check the equinox date. It usually falls on 20 March but can be 21 March.
Local attractions: Chichén Itzá is itself one of Mexico’s major tourist attractions, so take at least a day to wander through its many ruins.
More info: Yucatan Tourism Secretariat (www.mayayucatan.com.mx)