Chichen Itza

Las Monjas

General Information

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Forming the southern boundary of the archaeological zone open to the public is Las Monjas, the Nunnery.

This massive building is part of a complex that includes the Iglesia or Church, and the intricately carved East Wing. Las Monjas is one of the biggest structures, if not the biggest in Chichen Itza.

According to popular legend, the building was named by Francisco Montejo when he attempted to conquer the interior of Yucatan by establishing a Spanish city at Chichen Itza in the 16th century. The Maya later drove Montejo and his men out of Yucatan, but the name stuck.

Others have suggested the name originated because of the belief that the building was once used to house maidens who were selected to serve as priestesses (and later be sacrificed in the Sacred Cenote). What is known is that the building has been rebuilt and enlarged many times. It contains more apartments or rooms than any other structure in Chichen Itza. The Iglesia is one of the best preserved buildings, and the East Wing is considered one of the most beautiful.

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