The Castle

The Castle, as seen from a ceremonial platform to the west, with the Temple of the Steles at right

(OCR'd from my guide book and edited)
Standing close to the edge of the cliff on the east side of the inner precinct, it was built in different periods. The oldest part consists of two platforms that supported two galleries with a flat roof reached by a central staircase. Later the center of the building was filled in, the staircase was extended and the east wall built. This produced a new base where a temple was erected with two vaulted rooms, three entrances, and a lintel supported by two serpent-shaped columns with their heads on the floor and their tails above.
The facade has three niches, the central one containing part of a Descending God, and there are two stucco masks on the corners. The portico and shrine have benches, and the vault is shaped like the cross-section of a bottle. Finally, two oratories were built, one at each side of the bottom of the staircase.
Stucco masks wrap round the corner of the main, west-facing facade of the Castle between the two cornices. They have open mouths which bare their teeth, large stylized eyes and feather headdresses.

The small foreground building contains nothing at all, in fact it's mostly walls. It's a convenient, dark place to change film or cool off. But the Mayas probably used it as sort of a solar calendar, as the portals face in all four cardinal directions. At the solstices (winter and summer) sunlight will shine directly in the north door and out the south, or the reverse.

A view of the Castle taken through an archway at its southwest corner.

(Tech note: I stopped down to f/11 for this one. I agree with the f/64 school here, but it was not practical [film speed] or possible [SLR lenses generally only go to f/22 or f/32])

The Tour

All photos 1997 Scott Sakurai

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