I returned to work this week and it has been way busier than expected. The next installment from the Belize trip is our day trip to the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, located across the border in Guatemala.
Located in El Peten just a few hours through the jungle from Belize, Tikal is the most impressive and magnificent Mayan ruin in Central America. Believed to have been one of the most powerful cities in the ancient Mayan world, Tikal was inhabited between roughly 800 B.C. and 900 A.D., and was home to 100,000 people at its height. Today, a wildlife preserve covering 220 square miles of lush rainforest surrounds the ruins, and visitors commonly see monkeys and several species of tropical birds that inhabit the trees around the ancient city.
The city and surrounding areas are believed to have spanned an area of 23 square miles. The temples are mainly constructed out of limestone, which was very important for construction because it also provided lime for stucco and plaster. The temples used to be covered in rich color patterns and some temples were even painted completely red.
An official foreign expedition to Tikal was not made until 1848, although the locals probably always knew about the site. Tikal is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and archaeological studies continue.
Pyramids represent the sacred mountains, from which it was believed that maize came.