Twice each year, the earth experiences a perfect balance between daylight and darkness. The vernal and autumnal equinoxes were considered sacred, mystical days by many ancient cultures, and some even built elaborate monuments to mark the passage of time and capture the sun’s rays during this phenomenon. You can visit these fascinating archaeological sites anytime of the year, but for a real adventure, try going during the equinox.
The small town of Salisbury makes a great day trip from any hotels in London. Whether you arrive by car or by train, the moment you first see the massive columns of Stonehenge rise up from the Salisbury Plain is one you won’t soon forget. Archaeologists and astronomers have long noted that the massive stones frame the summer solstice sunrise perfectly, and modern-day pagans have embraced the monument as a spiritual center. There are guided sunrise tours that bring groups to witness these celebrations. Spring and fall equinox, however, get far fewer crowds than the summer solstice, so it’s a great time to reflect on your own spiritual rejuvenation in a quieter setting.
Spring and fall are a great time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula, and resorts such as the Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas offer excursions from the coast to Chichen Itza, the once-great Mayan metropolis. The Mayans were talented astronomers, and the ruins at Chichen Itza include a domed observatory. During the equinox, the main attraction is the great Pyramid of Kukulcán, the serpent god. When the sun begins to set on the day of the equinox, the shadows created form the shape of a great serpent slithering down the central staircase. The Mayans believed that the serpent brought the rains with its spring appearance and the dry season with its fall appearance.
Nestled in the green woodlands of southern New Hampshire lies America’s Stonehenge. This little-known but fascinating archaeological site contains a Native American stone circle and altar that serve as a more accurate astronomical calendar than its namesake. From the alignment stone, several large stones in the ring mark the location of the equinox sunrises. The area offers special equinox events and has great hiking year-round. America’s Stonehenge makes a great day trip from hotels in Boston or Cambridge, especially in the temperate autumn.
Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient cultures, learning more about astronomy, or just enjoying an offbeat adventure, traveling to these amazing areas that showcase the equinox is sure to be a memorable trip.