Top 10 Most Amazing Mayan Ruins In Central America
Top 10 Most Amazing Mayan Ruins In Central America: 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 temples and pyramids are a stunning reminder of a powerful civilization that once ruled the people of Central America. 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.
Located in northern Belize, Lamanai was once a considerably sized Maya city. The ancient ruins are not completely uncovered yet. Archaeological work has concentrated on the investigation and restoration of larger structures such as the High Temple, a 33-meter tall temple.
Since it was still occupied by the Maya when the Spanish arrived, Lamanai, which in Maya means “submerged crocodile”, is one of the few Mayan sites to retain its traditional name.
Coba in Mexico was a large ancient Maya city that was home to about 50,000 inhabitants at its peak. Most of its monuments were built between 500 and 900 AD. New temples were built and old ones were kept in repair until at least the 14th century perhaps as late as the arrival of the Spanish.
Coba contains several large temple pyramids, the tallest is about 42 meters high. Today only a small portion of the site has been cleared from the jungle and restored by archaeologists.
Located in western Honduras, Copán was a relatively small Mayan city well-known for its remarkable series of portrait stelae. The stelae and sculptured decorations of the buildings of Copán are some of the very finest surviving art of ancient Mesoamerica.
Some of the stone structures at Copán date back to the 9th century BC. The city grew into one of the most important Maya sites by the 5th century with more than 20,000 inhabitants but was mysteriously abandoned a few centuries later.
Sitting high on a plateau, 500 meters above sea level, Caracol is the largest Maya site in Belize. It was once one of the largest ancient Maya cities, covering some 168 square kilometers. At its peak around 650 AD, it had an estimated population of about 150,000, more than twice as many people as Belize City has today.
With a height of 43 meters, the largest pyramid in Caracol is still the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize.
An hour’s drive from Cancun, the Tulum ruins are the remains of an ancient cliff-top fortress built by the Mayans. Walled on three sides with the fourth open to the Caribbean Sea, the views are simply incredible.
Even though it dates back to 564 AD, Tulum was at its prime during the 13th and 14th centuries. It was a powerful trading hub for jade, cotton, and cacao beans. Apart from the El Castillo pyramid, the main attraction, have a look at the beautiful mural inside the Temple of the Frescoes and go for a swim at Tulum’s secret beach, surrounded by palm trees and sunbathing iguanas.
Hidden inside the jungles of the Mexican state of Campeche, Calakmul is one of the largest Maya cities ever uncovered. Calakmul was a powerful city that challenged the supremacy of Tikal and engaged in a strategy of surrounding it with its own network of allies.
From the second half of the 6th century AD through to the late 7th century Calakmul gained the upper hand although it failed to extinguish Tikal’s power completely.
Eventually, both cities succumbed to the spreading Maya collapse.
Rising from the dense jungle, Palenque is an archaeological site that was located on the western edge of the Maya civilization in the present-day state of Chiapas, Mexico.
Palenque is much smaller than some of its Mayan neighboring cities, but it contains some of the finest architecture and sculptures the Maya ever produced. Most structures in Palenque date from about 600 AD to 800 AD including the Temple of Inscriptions, the only Mesoamerican pyramid built as a funerary monument.
Uxmal, meaning “built three times” in the Mayan language, is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites in Mexico. The most recognizable and tallest structure at 115 feet is the Pyramid of the Magician.
The layers of the temple pyramid are oval unlike the rectangular or square layers of other Mayan pyramids. The pyramid appears to have been built in five phases, starting from the sixth century and continuing periodically through the 10th century.
With its grey temple-tops protruding through the lush canopy of the Guatemalan jungle, catching a glimpse of the ruins of Tikal is something truly special.
A popular day trip from Flores, these remote ruins are dotted with pyramids, temples, and palaces.
One of the biggest archaeological sites in Mesoamerica, Tikal was the largest and most powerful of the Mayan cities around 600 AD. Don’t miss the Temple of the Two-Headed Snake while you’re here.
As one of the tallest pre-Columbian structures in the Western Hemisphere, climbing to the top will treat you to incredible 360-degree views of the rainforest and beyond.
One of the most famous archaeological sites on Earth, Chichen Itza was once a thriving city on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Built by the Mayans in 600 AD, it was abandoned in 1221 when Mayapan became the region’s new capital. Highlights include the Temple of Kukulkan, a giant stone pyramid with four stairways representing a compass and 365 steps for each day of the year.
It is best visited during the spring or fall equinox when the sun creates a light show on the stairs of the pyramid.
Other must-see sites include the Ball Court, the Wall of Skulls, and the Sacred Cenote which was once a site of human sacrifice.