Take a Tour of Mayan Ball Courts

Scholars debate the rules and outcome of the Mayan ballgame. It’s one of the many Mayan mysteries that still exist today. But one thing we know for sure, a game was played and Mayan ball courts can be found at many of the ruin sites today. Plus, the tour guides love to talk about them too.

Below are photos from three of the Mayan ruins; Coba, Chichen Itza, and Tikal ball courts along with a small dose of what I learned when visiting them.

Mayan Ball Court of Coba

In Coba the court was small. My guide told me the games were not of the pinnacle importance here and especially not when compared to Chichen Itza and other sites. In fact, he mentioned the court probably was only used sparingly and for ceremonial games. I guess it was not a a long “ball” season for the players in Coba.

But not to worry, there are many other reasons to visit Coba.

the goal.

the goal at the maya ball court in Coba

the mayan ball court of Coba in Mexico

the court of Coba

Mayan Ball Court of Chichen Itza

Ok, the court here impressed. Although not packed with stadium seating as the Coliseum in Rome,  it seems the game here was played on the large stage. And it also seemed the stakes were large. My guide told me the debate continues of whether the winners or losers lost their heads. Was it an honor and a route beyond our world to heaven?  Or just a punishment? Either way, it seemed when a game was played – heads would role.

The Chichen Itza Mayan Ball Court Serpent

The Chichen Itza Mayan Ball Court is guarded by a serpent

the people can show you the scale of the court

the Chichen Itza Ball Court

Mayan Ball Court of Tikal

In Guatemala at the ruins of Tikal the ball court even seemed less of a main stage. There are small and can be found in the popular Templo IV section of the ruins right beside the Temple of the Jaguar. But, my guide barely mentioned the ball court as there is much more to see and explore at Tikal.

At one point I was able to walk real close, but not close enough to play – no thanks.

Tikal Ball Court beside Temple of the Jaguar at Templo IV

ball court beside the Temple of the Jaguar

inside the mayan ball court at Tikal in Guatemala

standing inside the ball court, but not playing the game

stay adventurous, Craig

this photo essay post was specifically designed for #Frifotos on twitter and theme was “Balls.” Inspired to be creative, I thought a ball court might prove interesting. So, I decided to take you across “ball” courts of the Mayan Empire.

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