Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mayan Ruins

For almost a millennium, the ancient ruins of great architecture lay buried beneath the jungle vegetation on the Yucatan Peninsula. Abandoned by their creators these ancient Mayan ruins are a stunning reminder of a powerful civilization that once ruled the people of Central America. The Maya civilization was never unified however but instead consisted of a network of city-states dominated by sacred Lords, who were linked by complex ties of kinship, ritual, trade and military alliances. Some of these cities would grow into ‘superpowers’, with huge temples and pyramids. Although the accomplishments of the ancient Mayans are astonishing, no city would escape the inevitable collapse. One by one they were swallowed by the rainforest leaving the amazing Mayan ruins hidden, waiting to be discovered.

Centuries later the Mayan ruins were rediscovered by early explorers and archeologists who found them hidden away in the jungles of southern Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize. Although badly eroded, the ruined buildings and great stone pyramids, some towering over the dense jungle canopy, were still magnificent and beautiful. From the inscriptions on the eroded monuments and exquisitely carved stones, the image of a complex civilization emerged. These monuments display remarkable achievements in astronomy, mathematics and calendrics.

Today the Mayan ruins are among the most popular tourist attractions of the countries they now are located in. Chichen Itza in Mexico is probably the most famous and best restored of the Mayan sites. Although extremely overcrowded this site will still impress even the most seasoned traveler. Copan, Honduras is not as grand or imposing as Chichen Itza, but its beautiful decorated buildings and sculptures, especially the enormous carved stelae make it a must see Mayan site. Caracol, Belize was once one of the largest ancient Maya cities with an estimated population of about 150,000, more than twice as many people as Belize City has today. And its largest pyramid is still the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize. Tikal, Guatemala is somewhat different from other great Mayan sites because it is located deep inside the jungle. Its many plazas and pyramids have been uncovered and partially restored but as visitors walk from one monument to another they pass beneath the dense canopy of the rainforest providing a unique ambiance. provides detailed information about each of these Mayan ruins and many others. Detailed information is provided with historic backgrounds, photos, interactive maps and travel information. Enjoy your visit!

No comments: