Mayan Ruins

Templo Gran Jaguar, Tikal Peten

Mayan Ruins in Guatemala are a living testimony to a culture that once flourished between 700 BC to 900 AD. The most prominent Mayan Ruins can be found in the Tikal area and across the Honduran border in Copan. Smaller remains of Mayan buildings can be seen all over Guatemala.

Mayan Ruins are the truly astounding evidence of a long lasting, dynamic cultural tradition. The monuments paid tribute to the rulers of the past, and inscriptions inside are concerned with dynasties and conquests, alliance and raids. Some 10 square miles of central Tikal have been mapped revealing over 3000 separate constructions: Huge stones brought down by the rivers of the south coast served as the raw material for the carving of gigantic sculptures that have been found in this region.

The Great Plaza is the most spectacular structure in Tikal and is surrounded by stelae and sculpted altars, ceremonial buildings, residential and administrative palaces, and a ball court. At each end of the plaza loom the temple of the Great Jaguar and the Temple II. The temple of the Great Jaguar is located on the eastern side of the Great Plaza and measures more than 150 feet in height. The temple was erected about 700 AD by order of Ah Cacao, whose tomb was discovered inside. Temple II: This temple stands at the western end of the Great Plaza and rises to a height of 120 feet.

The ancient city of Copan, 13km from the Guatemalan border in Honduras, is one of the most outstanding Mayan achievements ranking among Tikal. People have been living in the Copan valley at least since around 1200 and probably before that. Reigned by kings, the royal sculptors of Copan displayed their innovative talents in many ways. The Hieroglyphic Stairway includes the longest single glyphic text found at any Maya site. It now appears that the stairway commemorates Copan Rulers 1 through 15.

Quirigua is one of the smallest Mayan cities but one of the most notable due to its splendid series of monuments. These include the largest block of stone ever carved by the Mayas. The site includes temples, eleven other large stelae, and four rocks carved in the form of mythological animals.

Aguateca is an other archaeological site that flourished in the region of Peten during the Classic Period. Nestled in the vegetation on the Pasion River Ceibal, it is one of the most interesting combinations of waterways, natural beauty and archaeological interest.