To this land came the men created from corn. Those
who made 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. In Guatemala, amid the
scent of orchid and bromeliads, beside volcanoes, ceiba trees, lagoons,
rivers, caves and cenotes, the Mayas built more than 3, 000 cities.
They play a ritualistic ball game and took steam baths to clean
their bodies and hearts. They deciphered Venuss and the suns
orbits and invented the digit zero.
They cut jade to perfection and created murals of transcendental
and beautiful images. They gave a name to every rock, hill, tree
and flower of this region.
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 monumental city of this ancestral
In Tikal, the Maya raised their pyramids to the sky.
The temple of the Two-Headed Serpent reaches up to 70 meters, and
from there you can hear 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.
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 stone monuments in 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 its, geographical
location Tikal was a major trading center. Though considered to
be of the Classic Period, from 250 to 900 A.C., construction actually
began in 600 B.C.
Among corozo palms, underbrush and behind the fragrant
green curtain on the jungle, is the archeological site of Ceibal.
Here the Maya built the finest steal from the Post Classic period,
still in perfect condition.
To appreciate its beauty, take a walk along the alluring
jungle paths. The small observatory here was designed to pinpoint
the exact location of the planets, stars and galaxies. What did
the ancient Maya see from Ceibal!
Rain forests are the offspring of a delirious union
between water and hearth. From such a union came Yaxhá, Green
Water, and 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 placed lake. The island has ancient structures
very similar to those Mayan cities of Yucatan, Mexico. Temple C,
with its isolated columns, belongs architecturally to the Post-Classic
At Yaxhá, the echeloned terraces, plazas and
ceremonial causeways, come to life with the footsteps of the visitors,
who delight themselves with the spirit of this ancient world. Yaxhá
is one of the Mayan Worlds most extensive constructions: a
double acropolis on the south side surrounded by patios, plazas
and monumental buildings.
Mayan astronomers, mathematics and architects were
extremely knowledgeable for their time. 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 fro astronomical studies, like Building
E-VII-B of this ceremonial center with steps on all four sliders,
flanked by large stucco masks, used fro determining the dates of
the equinoxes and solstices.
Uaxactun 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.
In the 19th -century, scientist began to explore the
ruins of Old Mayan cities, and have since painstakingly deciphered
hieroglyphic accounts of their histories. One of the milestones
in this work was the discovery that some hieroglyphs are used as
phonetic markers for words from a language similar to those spoken
by contemporary Maya. Guatemalas written history dates from
the first century BC, when the Maya carved the earliest, dated inscription
found so far in the century.
The history left to us by the Maya, carved on door
lintels, stelars, and staircases of written on paper made of tree
bark, records the rise and fall of kings, triumphs in war, and astronomical
observations. Maya history is usually divided into Pre-Classic (600
BC - 250 AD), Classic (250 - 900 AD) and Post - Classic (from 900
AD). The city of Tikal, where cibtubyius cibstruction occurred for
more than 1,000 years, began in Pre - Classic times, reached the
height of its glory in the Classic era, and collapsed, for unknown
reasons, in about 900 AD.
The Tikal National Park lies within the Maya Biosphere
reserve, 3.9 million acres of protected forest and wetlands that
comprise 19% of the Guatemalas land area and 50% of its existing
forests. The reserve contains the largest, intact, tropical forest
in central America, as well as more than 200 archaeological sites,
all Maya, including Tikal, el mirador, Yaxha, Uaxactun and Dos Pilas.
Visitors to Tikal and the Maya Biosphere will see not only pyramids
that tower above the forest canopy, but the wildlife that provided
inspiration for Maya art and mythologys Fifth-four mammal
species, including howler and spider monkeys, anteaters, armadillos,
coatis, kinkajous, pumas, jaguars and tapirs still inhabit the forest
once inhabited by the Maya, as do 333 species of birds, including
toucans, macaws and Ocellated Turkeys.
Tecpán and Iximché
The Maya-Cakchiquel town of Tecpan is located along
the Pan - American highway about 90 minutes from Guatemala City.
The principal attraction here are the Iximche ruins found jus a
few kilometers away. The city of Iximche was founded by the Cakchiquels
in 1463, about 80 years before the arrival of Spaniards. It was
named for the ramon tree, which bears a nutritious, edible fruit
that was ground by the Maya into flour and mixed with corn dough
to make tortillas.
The ruins of Iximche, bounded by ravines and quiet
pine forest, are an excellent place to contemplate the history of
the Cackchiquel people and of the Spanish conquest, in which thet
played an important role.