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Gran Juego de Pelota

Imagine this vast ball court as it would have looked surrounded by spectators when the ancient Mayans played out life-or-death sports games here.

Gran Juego de Pelota, or the Grand Ball Court, is the largest of several impressive playing fields at Chichén Itzá that prove how much the ancient Mayans loved ball games. Walk the length of this extraordinary structure and imagine the crowds of thousands who looked on when games were played here as much as 1,000 years ago. Consider how high the stakes were for the players, who often faced brutal consequences for losing.

Admire the enormous size of Gran Juego Pelota. The Mayans are believed to have played a game here that used a rubber ball roughly the size of a soccer ball, but other spectator sports were likely played here too. These would have included a variety of other ball games as well as wrestling. It is also likely that grand feasts and other community celebrations were held here.

Look for the carvings around the court. These depict the rules of the main ball game played here. Try to find the gruesome carving that shows a beheading. For some unlucky players, this was the consequence of losing. It is thought that Mayan ball games were not only a source of entertainment but were also used as a way of settling disputes and punishing criminals, with losing team members being executed and winners being spared. 

Gran Juego de Pelota is just one of many impressive historic structures to explore in the ancient Mayan site of Chichén Itzá. Explore the two temples that are directly next to the ball court. These are named the Temple of the Jaguars and the Temple of the Bearded Man and, like the ball court, they feature fascinating carvings.

Buy a ticket for Chichén Itzá and spend the day exploring Gran Juego de Pelota and the many other Mayan structures here. Choose a guided tour to gain expert insight into these marvelous structures, or forgo the tour and wander at your own pace. Consider staying in the beautiful town of Valladolid, which is around a 45-minute drive away. 


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Best Lodging Options Near Gran Juego de Pelota

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Mayaland Hotel And Bungalows CA $127
Mayaland Hotel And Bungalows

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    Hotel Okaan CA $135
    Hotel Okaan

    Hotel Okaan

    km 122 Carr Merida-Puerto Juarez, Chichen Itza, YUC
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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      The Lodge at Chichen Itza CA $212
      The Lodge at Chichen Itza

      The Lodge at Chichen Itza

      Carretera Merida-Cancun, Km 120, In the heart of Chichen Itza, Chichen Itza, YUC
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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        Hotel Chichen Itza CA $51
        Hotel Chichen Itza

        Hotel Chichen Itza

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          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          This family-friendly hotel is located in the city centre, within 2 mi (3 km) of Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza, Pyramid of Kukulkan and Court of the Thousand Columns. El Caracol is 1.7 mi (2.8 km) away.

          Hotel DORALBA INN Chichén CA $35
          Hotel DORALBA INN Chichén

          Hotel DORALBA INN Chichén

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            Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza CA $109
            Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza

            Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza

            Km 120 Carretera Merida-valladolid, Chichen Itza, YUC
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              This family-friendly Chichen Itza hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza and El Caracol. Cenote Ik kil is 1.5 mi (2.4 km) away.

              Hacienda Chichen Resort & Yaxkin Spa CA $242
              Hacienda Chichen Resort & Yaxkin Spa

              Hacienda Chichen Resort & Yaxkin Spa

              Carretera Libre 180 KM 120, Chichen Itza, YUC
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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                Stardust inn CA $31
                Stardust inn

                Stardust inn

                Calle 15 Num 34A x 2Ay 2B Piste, Tinum, YUC
                   
                  2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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