Tikal, City of the Maya

Tikal’s temples rise above the forest canopy, occupying an area of lush jungle in Guatemala. Tikal is one of the best studied Mayan sites, first occupied around 800 BCE.  It’s 988 acre center, including the principal monuments is a World Heritage property.

Wide raised causeways connect the major buildings and served as roadways and also water catchment systems, channeling runoff for the plazas into a reservoir west of the central acropolis.  By the first century Tikal was an agrarian city ruled by Yax Ehb’Xook. The city’s population at this time is thought to be about 60,000.

The central acropolis consists of 46 buildings set around six courtyards along with the royal palace.  The north acropolis contains royal tombs many with commemorative temples.  To the southwest is yet another ceremonial plaza, several of Tikal’s eRly rulers are buried here.  The main structure is a pyramid about 100 feet high with stairways on each side that were once flanked by huge masks.  The Mercador stone found here documents Teotihuacan’s  inquest of the city in 378.

Some of the interiors of the churches are decorated with striking friezes of biblical scenes and bas-reliefs.