Chichen Itza’s Exciting Ball Game

At the famous mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico you will find the Kukulkan castle, one of the new seven wonders of the world.

However Chichen Itza its much more than just its main pyramid. This ancient maya city had everything you would find in a big metropolis, for example: a market to trade food and goods, ceremonial temples dedicated to different gods, an astronomic observatorium and of course a ball court.

Chichen Itza mayan ball game player

There are over 1,300 ball courts in Mesoamerica. Though primarily used as a location for the ball games, archeological evidence also indicates that they were likely used in other spectator sports such as  wrestling as well as feasts.


The Chichén Itza Ball Court is by far the largest field in Mesoamerica. Measuring 168 by 79 meters (551 by 230 ft) the playing field is 2.2 times the size of an American Football field.   The parallel walls are each 95 meters (312 ft) long and 8 meters (26 ft) high. The inverted hoops placed in the center of the walls are carved with into decorative feathers. There are incredible panels of ball players along the interior walls.

Fun fact: the court is acoustically perfect, if you talk to the northern wall for example, you can hear it clearly at the southern wall.

Chichen Itza Ballcourt


The music of the drums attracted the attention of gods and men. The main priest, with the ball in his hands, started the game. The ball was made of rubber, a product extracted from certain trees in the forest, which was boiled and dried in the sun (it weighted around 3kg).

The ball had to go through a ring that was sometimes seven meters high. The players had to be agile, they jumped to face the ball with their hips. Clothing for the game protected the most delicate body parts, since the ball could cause significant bruises or injuries. The mayans used belts and protectors made of leather and filled with cloth.

You might also would like to read: 15 Interesting Facts About Chichen Itza!

The games were serious affairs and were used to settle political and social disputes. A disagreement between two parties or towns could be settled by the recruitment of teams that would play for the parties. Losing a game would often mean decapitation. In many archeological sites, a skull rack is used to display the heads of the victims.

Here is a recreation of the ball game performed at the themed park Xcaret in Cancun so you can have a better idea about how it worked. Looks tough right?

We hope you enjoyed reading this post, so next time you make a Chichen Itza Tour don’t miss the ball court!

For more information about tours to Chichen Itza from Cancun, please check our website: