The Strange History of Cahal Pech in Belize

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The idea of going to see Mayan ruins crosses the minds of millions each year, but don’t let a crowd stop you. There are great Mayan ruins that aren’t as crowded but just as wonderful to visit. The Mayan site of Cahal Pech is one of these locations. Located in the Cayo area of Western Belize, the site offers more than a few Mayan buildings and ruins to see.

The site itself is a type of archeological enigma. No one seems to know when it was discovered. The first time, on paper, that the ruins of Cahal Pech were discovered it was during the beginning of WWII, in the mid 1930’s. Because of the war efforts and the resources that were taken to fight, the first official dig held at the Cahal Pech site was in the 1950’s peacetime, 1950 to be exact.

The History

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Strangely, a report was never turned in on the site. The only way to know what happened while they dug and what they found is by asking the Belize Department of Archeology. Officially, one year after the dig a single two-paragraph note was published about the dig.

It wasn’t until the 1960’s when Belize’s first commissioner of archeology visited the ruins of Cahal Pech, several times, before he decided it should be made a historical landmark. Laws are now in place to ensure that no buildings, logging, or any type of man made device can be made in such a way to bother or affect the ruins of Cahal Pech natural beauty.

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The site has shown evidence of being occupied for almost 1,000 years. Imagine a single city existing in continuous use for hundreds of years! For any lover of human history and/or archeology, the ruins of Cahal Pech is a city you can visit. There are over 30 ruins still standing in this ancient acropolis, putting it in line for one of the most well preserved ancient cities on the planet.

The Ruins

All of the ruins there almost speak out what their life was like, but some ruins can tell volumes more than others. The ruins of Cahal Pech include two Mayan ball courts, Mayan plazas, and a strange uncarved alter. In one part of Cahal Pech a small ruin exists that has been thought to be an ancient Mayan sweat house. This sweat house is another suggestion of a relationship between the Mayan people and the Native Americans of the North.

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Guided tours through the ruins of Cahal Pech can take about an hour and will cover the full two acres and 34 structures of the site. There is a small admissions fee to enter the site, and you can go alone and take your time but doing so might cause you to miss something that only a guide may know about.

Cahal Pech is one of the best and most accessible Mayan ruins available for tourists. See what everyday life was like for the average Mayan by seeing the buildings that made for their own uses, as compared to our steel and glass!