Chichén Itzá ’s famous Great Ball Court is the largest ball court in Mesoamerica, by a wide margin. The playing field is 135 meters (443 feet) by 65 meters (213 feet), with two parallel walls eight meters high (26 feet), with scoring rings in impossibly high perches in the center.
The players would’ve had to hit a 12-pound rubber ball through the rings using only their elbows, wrists, and hips. They wore heavy padding and the game likely lasted for hours.
At the game’s end, the captain of one team—or even the whole team—was apparently sacrificed, possibly by decapitation. There’s disagreement about which team got the axe, however. Some say it was the losers—otherwise the game’s best players would constantly be wiped out. Some argue that it was the winners, and that being sacrificed would have been the ultimate honor.
Of course, it’s likely the game varied from city to city, and evolved over the many centuries it was played. Along the walls, reliefs depict the ball game and sacrifices.
On the outside of the ball court, the Lower Temple of the Jaguars has incredibly fine relief carvings depicting the Maya creation myth. An upper temple is off-limits to visitors, but is decorated with a variety of carvings and remnants of what were likely colorful murals.