Among the many famous and well-visited archaeological sites is the famed Tikal Ruins of Petén in Guatemala. Tikal is not just popular but it is also very impressive as the largest and most probably the oldest of all the ruined cities of the Ancient Maya civilization.
The Abandoned Tikal Ruins
In studying the ruins, it was estimated that Tikal could have housed around 100 thousand Maya people, but for reasons still unknown to modern men, the city was abandoned and was left to be taken up by the rainforest. The period of abandonment for the southern lowlands Maya centers was estimated to be from 600 AD to 800 AD and there are several assumptions that attempt to explain why the Maya people left. Among the multiple possible and debated reasons include; warfare, foreign invasion, over-population, revolt against oppression and a number of destructive natural calamities.
No matter what the reasons could have been, during that time, the focus of the desertion was concentrated only on the southern lowlands, leaving the northern lowlands to continue prospering until the Late Classic Period. The Appealing Beauty of Tikal Ruins
The vast coverage of the city is one appealing feature of the ruins of Tikal. There is no other ruined city that can compare to the size that Tikal has covered. The place is simply huge and filled with more than 4 thousand structures that include plazas, temples and a great pyramid.
Aside from these numerous well-reserved architectural ingenuities, Tikal also offers an exceptional opportunity for bird watchers and animal lovers. There are many species of animals that can be seen along the paths, which include; gray foxes, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, red coatis and a wide array of winged-creatures. To experience a relaxing bird watching moment could be reason enough to visit the ruins of Tikal.
The Famed Temples, Plazas and Pyramid of Tikal Ruins:
The Great Plaza
The Great Plaza is considered as the most magnificent Tikal structure and it is surrounded by tall sculptured monuments and altars, governmental and residential palaces, a ball court and ceremonial buildings.
The Great Jaguar Temple
This temple is also known as Temple I and just the first among the numerous temples in Tikal. It is stands at over 150 feet and situated to the east of Great Plaza. The tomb of Ah Cacao was found inside and it was assumed that the temple was constructed around 700AD.
The Temple of the Masks
This is the Temple II and situated west of Great Plaza and it stands at 120 feet high. This was also erected under the orders of Ah Cacao about the same time as the Temple I.
The Temple of the Jaguar Priest
The Temple III towers the first two temples at 180 feet and situated on the western side of Temple II. This temple features an almost intact carved lintel that depicts a main character dressed in jaguar coat.
The Temple of the Double-Headed Serpent
This is Temple IV and undoubtedly the tallest structure in the city at 212 feet of height. It was ordered to be constructed by Yaxkin Caan Chac around 470AD.
This is actually a mortuary pyramid and at 187 feet, it is the second tallest temple in Tikal. The name was given by archaeologists and so far it has remained to be called just that.
The Temple of the Inscriptions
The Temple VI can be found on the south side of Mendez causeway and its roof comb is home to the longest hieroglyphic recording of all times. The constructed date was estimated to be around 766AD and believed to be also built under Yaxkin Caan Chac.
The Plaza of the Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid of Tikal is located on the southwest of Great Plaza and it is the largest pyramid in the city. It stands at about 100 feet and along with other structures, forms a fraction of an astronomical complex. The south structures are known as the Great Masks.
The Plaza of the Seven Temples
On the east side of the Great Pyramid a group of ceremonial buildings and a five-door palace and be found. The ceremonial structures are believed to have merged during the post-classic era while the palace is supposed to have been erected during the pre-classic era.
In 1958, the ruins of Tikal became the Tikal National Park and it was declared as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979. The ruined city was painstakingly restored and preserved, a process which turned the once abandoned Maya city into a magnificently landscaped archaeological site.
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