Maya Tikal pyramid

According to Mayans the world begun on 13th of September 3114 BC. Preclassic period dates from 2000 BC, to 250 AD. In this time, the first Mayan cities started to develop, such as El Mirador, Tikal, Copan, Calakmul, Teotihuacan and Caracol. The biggest prime of Maya civilization was in the classical period between 250 AD to 900 AD.



Maya civilization

Mayans were amazing astronomers that could calculate solar year more accurately than anyone else, even without today's technology. They used a base 20 system for their calculations and built their large cities without need to use wheel for transportation of material. Maya civilization spread from Yucatan peninsula over Guatemala, Belize and to north of Honduras and Salvador. Unfortunately, perhaps due to change of climate, Maya civilization started to cease around 9th century. Urban water supplies started to dry out and people were leaving to smaller villages near water. Concentration of power, science, craft and trade fell slowly apart. When Christopher Columbus discovered America in 15th century, he brought potatoes, tomatoes, corn and cocoa back to Europe but for a terrible prize – he destroyed civilizations. In 1521 Hernan Cortes led an expedition that caused fall of Aztec Empire in Mexico and it took only three years before Spain set foot on Guatemala ground. In next few years Guatemala succumbed to Spain (apart from Flores in El Peten which resisted for another 170 years). In 1541 the city of Antigua was established as a capital city and had jurisdiction over area from south Mexico to Costarica.



Maya pyramids in Tikal

One of the most famous landmark of Maya civilization is Tikal, which was populated from 7th century BC and in its prime was a home for over 100 thousand people on 30 square kilometers. Its biggest rival was Caracol in Belize: in 6th century Tikal was defeated by king of Caracol and in 7th century fate turned and Tikal defeated Caracol. Tikal perished in 9th century along the whole Maya civilization. There are still over 4000 structures in this area. If you want to visit Tikal, first you have to go to town Flores in north of Guatemala.

Maya pyramids in Tikal 1 Maya pyramids in Tikal

Templo I pyramids, Gran Plaza

For me, trip to mythical Tikal started at half past in the morning when I sat on the curb outside in deep darkness and waited for a van to pick me up. As usual no one appeared at agreed time and the whole place was completely silent. I decided to walk for a bit and found out that just few meters from me is another person sitting on the curb and then another just few meters from there. We agreed that we're in it together so we sat down again and waited. After a while the van finally arrived and we set out to Tikal. After an hour we got to the edge of the reservation and for another half an hour we traveled in a dense forest. At six o'clock I found myself in Tikal, I left our little group and went along the signed pathway towards magical Maya pyramids.

While walking in the dense forest I met a monkey, then a large squirrel and even few coatis. I found the first pyramid after 15 minutes and it left me speechless. In silence of the forest grew an enormous building which you'd never expect to see here. I found Templo I at Gran Plaza.

I continued on the pathway towards next pyramid and out of a sudden there was a horrible loud noise. It was crazy, it sounded like a thousand trucks ready to start up. I quickly remembered that I'm in a country full of jaguars and got a bit nervous. After a while I bumped into local employee and asked about the noise. He replied that it must have been howler monkeys. It made me feel at ease, but the idea that monkeys are able of such a sound? I never knew that before!

Maya pyramids in Tikal 3 Maya pyramids in Tikal 4

At the top of Templo IV pyramid, Templo V pyramid

I reached the highest pyramid, Templo IV. It is the second highest Mayan building right after La Danta in El Mirador which is located in the north in deep forest near Mexican borders. Templo IV is 65 meters high and has wooden steps along the side. I climbed to the top and sat on a step. It was seven o'clock in the morning, there were colorful parrots flying around me, cockatoos were sitting on top of trees with their large yellow beaks and I could hear the sound of monkeys nearby. I was looking at the vast forest and could see the top of other pyramids in the midst. I sat there all alone in the silence for over an hour.


More about my travels to Guatemala, you can read in the travelogue.



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