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 Mayan ruins are a stunning reminder of a powerful civilization that once ruled the people of Central America. The Maya civilization was never unified however but instead consisted of a network of city-states dominated by sacred Lords, who were linked by complex ties of kinship, ritual, trade and military alliances. Some of these cities would grow into ‘superpowers’, with huge temples and pyramids. 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.
Centuries later the Mayan ruins were rediscovered by early explorers and archeologists who found them hidden away in the jungles of southern Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize. Although badly eroded, the ruined buildings and great stone pyramids, some towering over the dense jungle canopy, were still magnificent and beautiful. From the inscriptions on the eroded monuments and exquisitely carved stones, the image of a complex civilization emerged. These monuments display remarkable achievements in astronomy, mathematics and calendrics.
Chichen Itza in Mexico is probably the most famous and best restored of the Mayan ruins. Although somewhat overcrowded this site will still impress even the most seasoned traveler. Chichén Itza is located about 3 hours away from the Mayan Riviera, a stretch of green jungle and white sandy beaches that runs along the Caribbean coastline. The Mayan Riviera is famous for its large scale all-inclusive resorts that includes the famous beach resorts Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. A popular Mayan site on the Mayan Riviera coast is Tulum while the Coba ruins are located some distance inland.
The Mayan ruins are also popular tourist attractions in Belize. Caracol was once one of the largest ancient Maya cities with an estimated population of about 150,000, more than twice as many people as Belize City has today. And its largest pyramid is still the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize. Copan in Honduras is not as grand or imposing as Caracol, but it’s beautiful decorated buildings and sculptures, especially the enormous carved stelae make it a must see Mayan site.
The Tikal ruins in Guatemala are somewhat different from other great Mayan sites because they are located deep inside the jungle. Tikal’s many plazas and pyramids have been uncovered and partially restored but as visitors walk from one monument to another they pass beneath the dense canopy of the rainforest providing a unique ambiance.
MayanRuins.info provides detailed information about each of these Mayan ruins and many others. Detailed information is provided with historic backgrounds, photos, interactive maps and travel information. Enjoy your visit!