Mayan Ruins in Guatemala:

Tikal Archaeological Park

Tikal is Guatemala's most famous and also most impressive Mayan archaeological site. Continously settled for more than 1500 years, Tikal was abandoned around the year 900 AD for reasons not yet fully understood.

Tikal National Park was created in 1958 and covers 222 square miles amid the thick tropical jungle of El Peten. UNESCO declared Tikal a World Cultural Heritage site in 1979. It is regarded as one of the most important cultural and natural reserves in the world.

The easiest access to the park is by air. It is just a 40-minute flight from Guatemala City to the airport of Santa Elena. From there you can reach Tikal by bus in 45 minutes over an excellent highway.

There are more than 4000 structures in Tikal. The oldest date from the pre-classic period (800 BC) and the most recent from the post-classic period (900 AD). It was during this period that the Maya attained their artistic, architectural, mathematical, agricultural and commercial heights.

The most important plazas and temples in Tikal National Park are:

The Great Plaza

The most spectacular structure in Tikal is the plaza surrounded by stelae and sculptured altars, ceremonial buildings, residential and administrative palaces, and a ball court. At opposite ends of the plaza loom the temple of the Great Jaguar and Temple II.

Temple of the Great Jaguar (Temple I)

Located on the eastern side of the Great Plaza, it is more than 150 feet high. The temple was erected around 700 AD by order of Ah Cacao, whose tomb was discovered inside.

Temple of the Masks (Temple II)

This temple stands at the western end of the Great Plaza and rises to a height of 120 feet. It was also consturcted by Ah cacao around 700 AD.

Temple of the Jaguar Priest (Temple III)

Rising to 180 feet, and located west of Temple II, it was constructed around 810 AD. It has a carved lintel, almost intact, depicting a central character clothed in Jaguar skin.

Temple of the Double-Headed Serpent (Temple IV)

At 212 feet, this is the highest standing structure inTikal. It was built around 470 AD by Yaxkin Caan Chac.

Temple V

Constructed around 750 AD and located south of the Great Plaza. This temple is close to 190 feet high.

Temple of the Inscriptions (Temple VI)

It is located south of the Mendez Causeway. The roof comb containsd the longest hieroglyphic recording to date. It is estimated that the construction date was around 766 AD. It is believed to have been built under the rule of Yaxkin Caan Chac, but the inscription was added during the reign of Chitam. Stela 21 and Altar 9 are located at the base of the temple.

"The Lost World"

Plaza of the Great Pyramid

Located sothwest of the Great Plaza, this area features the largest pyramid at Tikal. It is approximaletely 100 feet hight and together with the structures to the west, forms part of an astronomical complex. To the south is the group called "Great Masks."

Plaza of the Seven Temples

Located east of the Great Pyramid, it is formed by ceremonial structures of the post-classic period. A palace with five doors, from the pre-classic period, can be seen covered up and used as the foundation for another building constructed during the post-clasic period. Building structures on top of older ones was a common practice with the Maya.

Tours including a visit to Tikal:

Tikal Tours from Antigua Guatemala (1 or 2 days)
One and two day tours from Antigua Guatemala to Tikal, optionally with sidetrips to other Mayan ruins in the El Peten department.
Guatemala by Land and River (10 days)
Spend four days sailing the Rio Dulce on our sailboat Las Sirenas, then continue to Tikal, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
Maya Guatemala (14 days)
The grand tour of Guatemala! Visit Antigua, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan, Tikal, Copan (Honduras), Livingston, Coban, and climb the Pacaya Volcano.
Maya Guatemala and "The Caribbean Experience" (21 days)
The grand tour of Guatemala plus seven relaxing days on our sailboat Las Sirenas to the Belize Barrier Reef and Islands.
More tour packages ...