Which Are the Must-See Maya Ruins of Belize?
While you may know that Belize is the ancestral homeland of the ancient Maya, you may not know just how many major sites remain to tell their story. While Central America is home to around 800 such sites, provided below are the most important ruins you may wish to come and see for yourself should you manage a trip to the country.
Altun Ha is a site found close to Belize City and is relatively easy to move about with hardly any steep inclines to its name. A visitor needs to simply meander across some grasslands and he will find himself amidst the two major plazas and pyramids of this site. Altun Ha is so cherished by Belizeans that its outline appears not only on the country’s money, the Belizean dollar, but also on the logo of Beliken, Belize’s national beer.
Located in northern Belize is the oldest site to be continuously occupied by the ancient Maya. Found just 24 miles south from Orange Walk Town, Lamanai is not only rich with ruins but also features a swath of jungle found close to the New River Lagoon. Visitors should be aware that Lamanai is Mayan for “submerged crocodile.”
Reaching this immense complex, whose name means “stone woman,” is a bit of a trek. Visitors must take a ferry from San Jose Succotz and travel along the Mopan River to reach Xunantunich. After a breather spent in the sprawling El Castillo temple, visitors are free to check out the sizable ground of this site. Notably, Xunantunich is an active archaeological site, meaning it is not uncommon to run into archaeologists and field researchers.
The Cayo District houses Belize’s largest ruin, Caracol. This site was once the center of power in the Maya world and home to over 120,000 peoples. Its Caana pyrmaid remains the tallest man-made building in the country. You can easily spend hours trekking across the 30 square miles of jungle, plazas and even a star-gazing observatory.
While Tikal is actually located within the rainforest of Guatemala, it is close enough to Belize’s border to make the list. This UNESCO World Heritage site was a Maya stronghold, likely known as “Yax Mutal,” between the years of 200 to 900 CE. Tikal is notable for having one of the most intact records of Maya succession and history. These records indicate that the site was abandoned by the 10th Century. While Tax Mutal can mean “at the waterhole” “the place of the voices” or “[the] first Yutal” depending on dialect, the name Tikal arose upon its discovery in the 1840s.
If you have even the most remote of interests in checking out these Maya ruins, you will want a place to stay. To that end, why not try Black Orchid Resort? Not only will you have top-tier accommodations but you can easily use it as a base of operations to tour the country’s many ancient Maya temples.
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