- "The Great Ball Court is also very impressive. I would like to have seen them play a game, although it sounds like the end was pretty violent. I think it was safer to be a spectator."
Chichen Itza's bonuses to Culture and Production can turn a city in the middle of a rainforest into a tropical paradise. It is particularly valuable to the Brazilians and the Kongolese (and potentially the Vietnamese), who have increased incentive to settle in or near these regions. With Chichen Itza and some well-placed Districts to increase the Appeal of surrounding tiles, the Brazilians may be able to establish a National Park in the middle of a rainforest - something other civilizations will almost never be able to do!
In Gathering Storm, Chichen Itza can be used in conjunction with an Entertainment Complex with a Zoo (which gives +1 Science to Rainforest tiles) and Reyna's Forestry Management title (which gives +2 Gold to tiles with unimproved features) for a total of 2 Food, 2-3 Production, 2 Culture, 1 Science, and 2 Gold from each Rainforest tile in the city. Alternatively, you can build Lumber Mills on the Rainforest tiles upon discovering Mercantilism, which provides extra Production at the expense of the Gold from Forestry Management.
The main challenge with Chichen Itza is finding a piece of land that's filled with Rainforests, and then settling in their midst and preserving as many of them as possible (i.e. not cutting them down to build Districts or wonders) to maximize the Culture and Production bonuses it grants. Remember that Rainforests, unlike Woods, cannot be replanted - once removed, they're gone forever.
The Mayans decided to build their great city of stone in the Yucatan in the middle of a jungle instead of on some nice beach. Whatever the logic of selecting such a spot, Chichen Itza was a metropolis of homes, temples, palaces, courtyards and ballcourts of extraordinary artistry; some of the ornamented structures date back 1500 years. The ball games were a special time in the city, as the winning captain was beheaded at the end of the play as a sacrifice to the gods (seems like a perfect reason to “throw” the game), possibly at the massive stepped-pyramid Temple of Kukulcan. Chichen Itza was a thriving concern until the 13th Century, when revolt and civil war broke out among the Mayans, at which point the city went into a steep decline from which it never recovered. What war didn’t take care of among the populace, disease and famine did. The center of the city was largely abandoned and in ruins by the time of the Spanish conquest.