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Mixco Viejo Ruins - Monument Mixco Viejo - Guatemala

The capital city of the Chojoma Maya, Mixco Viejo, fell to Pedro de Alvarado’s Spanish conquistadors in 1525 after a three-month siege. The city was once home to about 10,000 Maya, and was fortified by both large stone walls and its location in a steep ravine. It was established in the 12th century as a defensive outpost, and reached its peak population just before the conquistadors arrived. The conquistadors were supposedly led to a secret entrance to the city, and entered the fortified compound virtually unopposed. After the Spanish captured the city, they burned it down and killed many of the Maya living there. There are 120 structures in total, including two pitziil ball courts that housed a sport similar to a hybrid of soccer and volleyball. Excavations began by French archaeologists in the mid-20th century, who mistakenly believed the ruins to belong to the Poqomam Maya due to misinterpreted colonial records.

Although not quite as spectacular as Tikal or El Mirador, the Mixco Viejo ruins compensate for a lack of grandeur with prime location. The ancient city is located just 60 kilometers (36 mi) north of Guatemala City, making it a great day trip from town, whereas Tikal and El Mirador are hours, or even days away in the wilderness of El Petén. It is also set amidst a very dramatic backdrop, with panoramic views of lushly-forested mountains possible due to its mountaintop location. There is also a small museum housing a great deal of information on the city.


Mixco Viejo, Guatemala

Monument Types:

Getting There
There are four daily buses that head to Pachalum (or San Juan Sacatepéquez, which runs much more frequently but you have to catch a bus that will take you further north to the ruins) from Guatemala City. These will drop you off at the bottom of the hill leading up to the ruins, which requires about a 10 minute walk. The bus shouldn’t cost too much (about $0.80 to San Juan and then a similar fare up to the ruins), and the newly-paved road should make for a smooth ride.

Travel Tips:

Price Description: $4 for foreigners

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:7:30 a.m.

Open Hours to:4 p.m.

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

You Need to Bring:

Currencies accepted
Guatemalan quetzal

By Eli Mangold
22 Jul 2010

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