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Tikal National Park (World Heritage)

The ruined city of the same name, located in the Tikal National Park, is one of the most famous Mayan sites with more than 3000 temples, palaces and residential buildings. The Maya left the place more than 1000 years ago. The national park covers an area of ​​575 km² and has the largest area of ​​tropical rainforest in Central America. Visit behealthybytomorrow.com for Guatemala travel package.

Tikal National Park: facts

Official title: Tikal National Park
Cultural and natural monument since 1955 national park with 576 km²; about 4,000 temples, palaces, multi-storey houses as an expression of urban prosperity and dynastic power; i.a. the central acropolis with five courtyards and the 9,300 m² “Great Square” with buildings that are on the axes of the cardinal points; one of the most important Central American ecosystems with more than 2000 plant species, including 300 tree species such as mahogany and chicozapote
continent America
country Guatemala, Peten
location northeast of Guatemala City
appointment 1979
meaning one of the most important Mayan sites and with 221 km² the largest area of ​​tropical rainforest in Guatemala and Central America

Tikal National Park: history

2nd century BC Chr.-9. Century AD Settlement under 39 generations of rulers, including 219-38 reign of Yax Moch Xoc
682 Ah Cacao (Ha Sawa Chaan K’awil) coming to power
1848 Report of the governor of the Péten province on Tikal
1881/82 Visit and research work by Maya researcher Alfred Percival Maudslay
1950-61 extensive exposures
1979-85 Uncovering »Mundo Perdido«
Flora and fauna: 54 species of mammals, including Predators such as puma, ocelot, jaguar, and jaguarundi; Mantled howler and Geoffrey spider monkeys, Central American tapirs, whiskered and collar peccaries, white-tailed deer; Nine-banded armadillo; Giant and pygmy anteater and three-toed sloth; 333 species of birds such as red macaws and 38 species of snakes such as the poisonous coral snake

Jungle concert in the Mayan cosmos

Morning haze rises and is driven away by the slowly rising sun. The jungle “sweats out” the night moisture, or so it seems. Birds start their morning concert, the hunters of the night retreat into the undergrowth. The first warming rays of the sun drive away the night coolness. A symphony of never-before-heard jungle noises mixes with the still life of the rainforest. Happy who managed to climb a Mayan pyramid at this early hour and watch the sunrise over Tikal. In the early morning, the visitor still has what was once the largest city of the Mayas to himself. From here the Mayan cosmos was ruled, here priests and princes sat high up in their temples and determined the fate of thousands of subjects. In the heyday, up to 55,000 people are said to have lived here. Certainly it took very careful planning to keep them all busy and fed. Possibly the lack of food in particular was the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan culture, but that is still only a guess. Several thousand buildings – temples, palaces, pyramids, shrines and ball courts – were built by the Mayans of Tikal, but most of them are still hidden under the dense green of the jungle and can only be seen as earth-covered hills. After the residents suddenly gave up the city, it fell into disrepair and eventually became part of a rampant rainforest. Possibly the lack of food in particular was the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan culture, but that is still only a guess. Several thousand buildings – temples, palaces, pyramids, shrines and ball courts – were built by the Mayans of Tikal, but most of them are still hidden under the dense green of the jungle and can only be seen as earth-covered hills. After the residents suddenly gave up the city, it fell into disrepair and eventually became part of a rampant rainforest. Possibly the lack of food in particular was the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan culture, but that is still only a guess. Several thousand buildings – temples, palaces, pyramids, shrines and ball courts – were built by the Mayans of Tikal, but most of them are still hidden under the dense green of the jungle and can only be seen as earth-covered hills. After the residents suddenly gave up the city, it fell into disrepair and eventually became part of a rampant rainforest.

Just the sheer size of the ruins of Tikal over 16 square kilometers gives an idea of ​​its past size. No other Maya facility that has been researched to date offers anything like it. While other Mayan ruins have been completely exposed, the ruins of Tikal rise here and there from the green of the forest. Colorful feathered macaws screech in the lush green rainforest. Apparently forgetting the force of gravity, spider monkeys jump through the treetops with ease. Isolated jaguars roam largely unnoticed. In muggy weather, numerous visitors marvel at the impressive stoneware in the jungle – a real sweaty undertaking.

The most impressive buildings are around the Gran Plaza, the former center of power. Two large, steep pyramids rise on the east and west sides. The 45 meter high “Temple of the Great Jaguar”, also known as “Temple I”, is a majestic sight. The ruler Ah Cacao was immortalized in it around 700 AD. After his death he was buried in a ruler’s crypt under the pyramid, which contained valuable grave goods such as a jade mask that was only discovered in 1963.

Ah Cacao also had the “Temple of the Masks” opposite, “Temple II” built. Two masks that adorn the steep staircase gave the building its name. There is a kind of temple attachment at the top. A mural showing the execution of a prisoner could once be admired here. The north side of the large square is bounded by the “Acrópolis del Norte”, the northern acropolis, which was originally formed by 16 temples. The pictorial characters on several steles, which have been damaged by the dampness of the jungle, are barely recognizable.

Behind the “Temple of Masks” a 300 meter long path leads through the jungle to the “Lost World” – “Mundo Perdido”. The oldest, restored pyramid, the “Gran Pirámide”, with its 35 meters, only slightly towers over the foliage roof of the jungle. Steep stairs lead up on each side of this square structure. After the efforts of the ascent, you will be rewarded with a wonderful view over the former center of power of the Maya. The eye wanders over isolated gray spots of color that stand out against the omnipresent green. The panoramic view from the much higher »Temple IV« remains even more lasting. This almost 65 meter high “Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent” (“Serpiente Bicéfala”) is today the tallest “ancient building” in Central America.

Tikal National Park (World Heritage)