The great Tikal Maya Ruin never ceases to amaze travelers from far and wide. Although it is not located in Belize, many tourists have Tikal as part of their itinerary, or eventually add it to their travel plans. This tour can be done in one day or over a period of two days.
A full day tour is enough to explore and learn about the area, but nothing beats the sunrise and sunset tours. Apart from century old ruins and astonishing views, the park is also home to many species of wild animals like: tapirs, jaguars, cougars, howler monkeys, coatimundi, wild turkeys and a variety of colorful birds. Here are a few other interesting facts about Tikal:
Facts about Tikal in Guatemala
- Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban center of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.
- Tikal was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979.
- Tikal is Maya Yucatec meaning “ at the waterhole”. According to ancient hieroglyphs, the ruins were once known as Yax Mutul, meaning “first mutal”.
- There are more than 3000 structures on the site.
- Tikal had a population of almost 100,000 inhabitants.
- Only five percent (5%) of the area is restored and accessible for visitation.
- On May 26, 1955, Tikal was declared a National Park that covers an area of 220 square miles.
- There are traces of agriculture dating as far back as 1000 BC.
- Tikal flourished during the Maya Classic Period from 200 to 900 AD and was the most important city state in the Maya region.
- The Mayans designed their temples with perfect precision facing the sun which also generates certain sounds. By clapping in front of the temple, the shape of the temple transforms the clap into the sounds of the national bird, the Quetzal.
- Limestone was used for construction of the city which included: towers that measured over 60 meters high, large royal palaces, small pyramids, residences, administrative buildings, platforms, stone monuments, ball courts and even a jail.
- The tallest building at Tikal is Temple lV towering 70 meters high from the floor the top of its roof comb.
- The Pyramids were used as astronomical observatories to calculate the 260 Day Mayan Calendar.
- The Mayans used glyptic writing on stone and material made from tree bark. Only a few survived along with other archaeological findings which helped scholars learn about the history of Tikal.
- The City’s palace is known as “ The Central Acropolis”. It has 45 buildings and 6 courtyards surrounded by palaces three flights high.
- One of the first Pyramids constructed in AD1 is known as Mundo Perdido “ Lost World”, which stood 100 feet high and was known as one of the most massive structures in PreColumbian America. This pyramid was also used to calculate equinox and solstice.
- Tikal collapsed around AD 900 with no apparent reason. Some scientists claim that it was due to deforestation and drought. Pollution was also an issue where the two largest reservoirs were heavily polluted with mercury and phosphate.
- Tikal National park received a million or more visitors per year, include tourist vacationing in Belize.