Picture yourself traveling back in time to around the year 750 B.C., and all of a sudden, you materialize right in the middle of an ancient Maya city. Gaining your senses, you gaze at your surroundings, becoming transfixed by the sophisticated architecture. Irrigation systems, hieroglyphics and jaw-dropping, temples surround you! You’re dazed by the enormous ancient civilization. But, then, you’re awakened by a ritual procession, walking towards a fiery pit dedicated to demigods.
A human sacrifice has been prepared as a homage. You try to move, but can’t. You’re both amazed and horrified. But, this is what you traveled all the way down to Belize for. Perhaps, not to experience the sacrifice, but to relish and educate yourself on the civilization that perfected the calendar system and built vast cities in Mesoamerica.
Here are five must-see Belize Maya Ruins:
1. Seventy miles west of Belize City, sitting on a ridge above the Mopan River, lies Xunantunich. This archaeological site served as a Maya civic ceremonial center to the Belize Valley region in the Late and Terminal Classic periods and is home to El Castillo, the second-largest structure in the country.
2. Just forty kilometers south of Xunantunich in the town of San Ignacio Cayo, sits Caracol. This ancient Maya city will leave you speechless by its 53 intricately carved stone monuments, and complex routes the inhabitants used for extensive trade.
3. On a hilltop, in the Cayo District of Belize, sits not a vast Maya city, but a home of an elite Maya family. The elites probably used it as a refuge from the large, congested cities. Cahal Pech sits atop the Macal River, and its scenery is breathtaking.
4. Lamanai is in Northern Belize within the Orange Walk District. The civilization had a long existence of 3000 years and has many temples for you to enjoy. Copper was found in abundance here, marking a pivotal technological change.
5. Altan Ha was one of the smallest cities in the Maya civilization, but, very important. The city served as the main hub for trade. Tombs, pyramids, and temples, making up the city, will keep you preoccupied for many interesting hours,
If you’re looking to educate yourself on the Maya culture, and have a wonderful adventure exploring their history, stay in San Ignacio, Belize. Not only is the area beautiful, but the Maya ruins are right outside your doorsteps!