“Divine gods who resolved water with rain, light with sun, food with corn, life with death”
To this land came the corn men. Those who construct a face of their own, so that the gods might recognize them. They came here to lift their spirit to the stars, enjoy their light, and learn their movements and influences. Here, they stayed to carve stelae and build temples to their deities who protected their hours, their nights, their days and their feast days. In Guatemala, amid the scent of orchids and bromeliads, beside volcanoes, ceiba trees, lagoons, rivers, caves and cenotes, the Mayas built more than 3,000 cities. They played a ritualistic ball game and took steam baths to cleanse their bodies and hearts.
They deciphered Venus and the sun’s orbits and invented the digit zero. They cut jade to perfection and created on their walls with transcendental and beautiful images. They gave a name to every rock, hill, tree and flower of this region. Here, their heroes were born and here they left their heirs.
The Maya lived peacefully with their environment and created one of the most refined civilizations in the history of the world. Tikal is the greatest, most monumental city of this ancestral culture. Here, Maya worshiped the magnificent plumage of the quetzal and the figure of the ocelot.
The Maya took stones and brought them to life. Their stone carvings resemble the filigree work of fine jewelry; their ceramics and textiles capture the colors of the lush vegetation around them.
Here, the Maya held the mysteries of the Caribbean Sea, traveled on both oceans and built their domain as testimony to the grandeur of the human souls. That testimony continues amazing the world.
In Tikal, the Maya raised their pyramids to the sky. The Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent reaches up to 70 meters high, and from there you can here the sounds of the jungle: more than 300 species of birds, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, toucans, ocellated turkeys and more. Of such value is Tikal, that UNESCO has declared it a Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity site.
Daybreak in Tikal is like opening a mysterious door where the past seems to return and its glories can be perceived in the thousands of rocks that form this center. The northern acropolis alone covers an area of 10,117 square meters and the total extension of this archaeological site is 16 square kilometers, with more than 3,000 structures, including temples, altars, pyramids, palaces and multiple-use dwellings?
Because of it geographical location Tikal was a major trading city. Though considered to be of the Classic Period, from 250 to 900 A.C., construction actually began in 600 B.C. The superbly designed city of Tikal was inhabited for about a thousand years.
Today, it is part of the Tikal national Park and has two fine museums. One of them contains the replica of the tomb of a Mayan nobleman buried in the 7th century: one of the walls in this crypt is decorated with exquisitely carved jade.
Ceibal Among corozo palms, underbush and behind the fragrant green curtain of the jungle, is located the archaeological site of Ceibal. Here the Maya built the finest stelae from the Post Classic period, still in perfect condition.
To appreciate its beauty, take a walk along the inviting jungle paths. The small observatory here was designed to pinpoint the exact location of planets, stars and galaxies. What have the ancient Maya seen from Ceibal! So enthralled were the Maya by their observations, that they left ceramics and perfect anthropomorphous clay figures.
Yaxhá Rain forests are the offspring of a delirious union between water and earth. From such a union came Yaxhá “Green water”, the color of jade, precious and sacred water.
This city is located amid the jungle, beside the sacred island of Topoxté, and divided by a placid lake. The island has ancient structures very similar to those of the Mayan cities of Yucatán, México. Temple C, with its isolated column, belongs architecturally to the Post-Classic Period.
At Yaxhá, the echeloning terraces, plazas, and ceremonial causeways revive with the footsteps of the visitors, who delight themselves with the spirit of this ancient world. Yaxhá is one of the Maya World´s most extensive constructions: a double acropolis on the south side surrounded by patios, plazas and monumental buildings.
Nakum North of Yaxhá, a city with a ceremonial causeway linking two enormous structural complexes; To the east of Nakum is Natanjo, where you will find dive acropolises of considerable extent.
Uaxactún The Mayan astronomer, mathematicians and architects had a vast knowledge and in fact, it was not until the beginning of this century that our modern calendar finally had the precision of the Mayan calendar. No wonder they had so many buildings specially constructed for astronomical studies, like the Building E-VII-B of this ceremonial center with steps on all four side, flanked by large stucco masks, used for determining the dates of the equinoxes and the solstices.
Uaxactún or “Eight Stones”, is located 24 km. North of Tikal and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Guatemala. It flourished from the 4th until the 9th century A.D., during the Classic Period.
These dates can be corroborated by the inscriptions on the stelae: the oldest goes back to 328 A.D. while the latest to 889 D.C. Uaxactún also produced excellent quality of polychrome clay vases, the most beautiful of the Maya World.
Ixlú The Mayas sailed the seas, rivers and lakes of their vast territory, and went as far as the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico and the Panamanian coast. Ixlú was an important lacustrian port, between the Petén Itzá and Salpetén lagoons. In this small port, at the intersection of the roads to Tikal, Melchor de Mencos and Flores, a few stelae and Mayan ruins have been discovered.
In the Western Plateau
The city was strategically located so enemies could be seen approaching from far away. The name, in the Quiché language means “White Land”. Numerous tombs found here contained ceramics and other beautifully and imaginatively carved objects in pyrite.
Iximché The Cakchiquel were powerful warriors and skillful builders of fortified cities. Iximché is living proof of their creativity and proud spirit, and in spite of the earthquakes that have shaken this land, several stone structures covered with stucco are still preserved. You can also see the ball courts, built around four plazas, and visualize the anxious faces of both players and spectators: the Mayan ball game was a sacred game.
The indigenous chronicle entitled “Anales de los Cakchiqueles” places the founding of Iximché in 1470. It also mentions the constant battles these warriors fought, against the Quichés and other enemies. The first Spanish settlement on Guatemalan soil was in Iximché. It was called City of Santiago, perhaps because this apostle was also warrior of God.