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Top Guatemala

Gran Plaza - Ruin - Guatemala

The heart of the ancient Mayan civilization lies in this plaza, the focal point of the king’s realm. Temple I, also known as the Pyramid of the Giant Jaguar, faces west toward the setting sun, which was believed to be the gateway to the underworld. Built above the tomb of King Ah-Cacau by his son after succeeding his throne in AD 734, this temple was dedicated to the king himself. His tomb was richly adorned with jade objects, pearl and stingray spines, which were extravagant items for the Mayans. It is prohibited to climb the stairs of the 44m-high temple, as fatal cases of falling have been reported here. You can still climb Temple II though, and the views of the plaza from its roof comb are equally inspiring. Temple II is given the name ‘Pyramid of the Masks’ due to the monstrous faces that flank the steep stairs. Across the field from Temple I, it faces the rising sun. The 38m-high temple was dedicated to the king’s wife, known among the Mayans as the Queen of the Sun. Acrópolis del Norte is a complex of pyramids and palaces, under which tunnels and passageways display colossal masks and ceramics that the elites of Tikal used in their daily lives. An area where the upper-class civilians resided, this complex is of great significance, especially since more than 100 structures dating back to 400BC have been uncovered here.


Ruin Types:

Getting There

The main center of the Tikal National Park.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

Here are other activities in and around Tikal that may be of interest: Acrópolis del Sur & Templo V, Plaza de los Siete Templos, El Mundo Perdido (The Lost World), Northern Complexes, Templo de las Inscripciones (Templo VI), Templo IV & Complejo N, Acrópolis Central and Plaza Oeste.

By Nellie Huang
27 Oct 2009

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