Maya heritage site in record-breaking year

21st Dec 2012

An important Mayan cultural site in Mexico is expected to welcome a record number of visitors this year amid ancient claims that December 21 would see "the end of the world".

Chichen Itza in Yucatan state - now a Unesco World Heritage Site - already receives over a million visitors a year.

Its stunning Pyramid of Kukulkan was at the centre of a civilisation that spanned much of southern Mexico and Central America.

A popular belief has emerged that the Mayans predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012 - prompting many tourists to flock to catch sight of the monumental ruins while they still can.

But as a stall owner working close to the temple contends, the end-of-the-world prophecy is one big misunderstanding.

"It's not the end of anything," said stall-owner Isidro Ek'mato, pointing out that it actually signals the start of a new cycle of five millennia.

Rather than a time of fear it is really a privilege to be able to live at a time when a new cycle begins, he added.

So as the Mayan cultural sites in Mexico enjoy perhaps their busiest ever year due to a perception that the end of the world is imminent, the Maya people would see the reverse as true - that this is the start of a new beginning.

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