Belize was known as the heart of Mayan civilization during the classic period that lasted from 250 AD to 900 AD. For centuries the magnificent ruins of the ancient Maya civilization have captivated mankind with its enthralling temples and mesmerizing architecture. Maya Ruins of Belize have attracted generations of tourist enthusiast as well as archaeologists, explorers and history lovers.
It is assumed that Mayans had discovered and used the zero even before the Europeans. Their magnificent, breath-taking architecture is overwhelming. A number of archaeological sites are open to the public and five of them are frequently visited by the public. Below are some prominent and significant sites of the more famous Mayan structures in Belize:
This is located in the north of Belize City; Altun Ha is referred to as water of the rock. The ruins of Altun Ha are eminent for so many reasons. The largest and unique Jade head sculpture of Kinich Ahau which signifies the Maya’s Sun God, was found here during excavations.
During the Classic Period (from 250 to 900 A.D), Altun Ha was the foremost ceremonial center as well as a key trading center connecting the Caribbean shores with Maya’s prime areas. The largest temple of the Masonry Altars in Altun Ha is 54 feet high. Altun Ha is the most preferred site to many who tour in Belize.
Visited by many travellers, El Pilar is exceptional in nature because it has only been partly excavated with the intention of allowing visitors to experience the immensity of the jungle. The site is on the Belize-Guatemala border with entry to the site being only 7 miles from Bullet Tree Falls, Cayo District.
El Pilar comprises of some excavated chambers and court yards that are open to visitors, as well as many temples and mounds left as they were discovered. El Pilar is also prevalent with birders on a Belize vacation and the Emerald Toucanet is commonly sighted. In the canopy howler, monkeys can be observed lounging quietly. El Pilar is a brilliant choice for those on a Belize vacation in or around San Ignacio.
Caracol a very prominent site with Belize vacationers. It is usually surrounded by jungle; the ruins of Caracol contains vast structures, haunting tombs and charming carvings which give a glimpse of the people who lived in this interesting city. Caracol, which means snail, was discovered in 1938; although its excavation started only in 1985. The largest pyramid in Caracol, the Canaa, standing at 140 feet, is the tallest man-made structure in Belize.
Caracol is in the Cayo District. Many tour guides are always available to take you to this fantastic Mayan site. If your Belize vacation is taking you to the Cayo District, Caracol would be a great place for you to visit.
This is a remarkable site in the south of Belize. It is renowned for the curvature of its architecture that was incredibly assembled without mortar. Lubaantun is also in the center of the Crystal Skull controversy. A British explorer apparently discovered a crystal skull at this site in the 1920’s. Till date, contemporary science is unable to duplicate such a skull. The largest structure at Lubaantun rises 36 feet above the plaza floor. From the pinnacle of this structure there is an attractive view of the foothills of the Maya Mountains and the Toledo coastal plains. The centre of this site lies along a ridge top twenty miles from the sea. Compared to other sites, the Maya of Lubaantun took to shaping the ridges and slopes of the hilltop rather than levelling it off. The ceremonial centre of the lubaantun has 11 major structures grouped around five main plazas. Lubaantun is a must see!
Xunantunich means “Stone Woman” in the Maya language. The 135-foot tower “El Castillo” in Xunantunich is the second tallest structure in Belize after Canaa in Caracol. Xunantunich is a short drive from San Ignacio and is near the Belize-Guatemala border. The site is well cared for and a great place to learn of the mysterious Mayan and have a splendid day sightseeing. From the peak of El Castillo you can stare across miles of beautiful jungle and into Guatemala. A recent discovery was made in Xunantunich, the largest tomb ever discovered within Belize. The remains of a Maya leader skeleton were found in the tomb along with other items; jade beads, animal bones and furs.
These are many more Maya ruins in Belize. Mayan beauty is magical and perplexing, no matter which side you take a ride you will be able to witness a part of the captivating history of the Maya. This magical land was once the center of this thriving civilization. Whenever you are on vacation in Belize, make it a duty to discover the magnificent structures and architecture of impressive and intriguing Maya sites.