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The ruins of Yaxha - Monument - Guatemala

Yaxhá is a unique religious site and the third largest Mayan ceremonial archaeological site in Petén. The temples were built on the Zenith so the Mayas could observe the sun from sunrise till sunset. The site, whose name means Green Water, was stumbled upon by Teobert Maler, a German explorer who devoted his life to the ruins of the Maya civilization, in 1904 during one of his expeditions. The restoration work began in 1989 and over the years, archaeologists have excavated and restored many of the buildings.

The urban complex was inhabited for 16 centuries (600 BJC – 900 JC) by 20,000 inhabitants and was represented by more than 500 buildings, including temples, pyramids, palaces, platforms for public ceremonies and dances, as well as sanctuaries and houses. Outside the ceremonial center, commoners worked in artisanal workshops and in the fields, or as cleaners or servants. The city was organized in plazas where the administrative, civic and religious activities took place.

The main buildings were the Royal Palace where the governor and his family lived, the Northern Acropolis, the astronomic complex, two courts to play ball games, the Eastern Acropolis, the Place of the Shade, and the complex of the twin pyramids, all connected by roads.

The highest point is Temple 216 in the East Acropolis where there is a beautiful view of the lakes and sunset. This temple was built thirty meters higher than the others just for this purpose.

The whole visit should take about two hours. Each site is well documented, with explanations on boards.


Monument Types:

Price Description:


Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:6 a.m.

Open Hours to:6 p.m.

Travel Skills: None

Currencies accepted
US dollar, Guatemalan quetzal

Here are other activities in and around Yaxha that may be of interest: Topoxte and Nakum.

By Claire Bourgin
I have traveled around the world since I'm a kid. Traveling is now part of my everyday life in Guatemala. I have been living in Quetzaltenango for 3...
28 Oct 2009

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