Mayan Ruins in Belize.
The rain forest of Belize holds secrets and revelations of some of the most intriguing discoveries of the ancient world known as the Mayan civilization. There has been much speculation over the decades about the great people who inhabited this region, and much of that has to do with the many Mayan ruins that are scattered all over the landscape. Belize’s agriculture-friendly climate along with its easy access to the coast and an abundant marine life gave rise to large cities that still impress visitors to this tropical region of the world.
The most visited site in Belize is Altun Ha, it is a favorite of the locals for its history connected to the jade head. Altun Ha is just 34 miles to the north of Belize City, and because of its close proximity to the sea is thought to have been an important trading center for the 1200 years it was inhabited. Approximately 500 buildings found in this location have been restored demonstrating the fine craftsmanship of the Mayans who built this city.
Just to the South West of Altun Ha is Lamanai (Submerged Crocodile). Evidence indicates that this is city was first inhabited somewhere around 1500 BC. 70 structures have been excavated here, but it is thought that there are more than 700 more just waiting to be unearthed on the 950 acres that make up this site. The Temple of the Jaguar is just a short boat ride on the New River that makes its way through a bird reserve where two jaguar masks can be seen flanking a stairway to the temple.
Further South West from Altun Ha is Cahal Pech (Place of Ticks) which overlooks the town and is within a 20-minute walking distance of San Ignacio. It was the royal palace during the Classic period and was used by an elite Mayan family. It is thought that Cahal Pech was settled somewhere around 1000 BC and was abandoned as recently as 800 AD.
Another location that is also to the South West of Altun Ha and just North West of Cahal Pech is Xunantunich (Maiden of the Rock). It is only eight miles East of the border Belize shares with Guatemala. During the Classic period, this Mayan city was a major ceremonial center with 25 palaces and temples as well as the second tallest structure of Mayan construction that exists in Belize. Many consider Xanantunich to be the most impressive Mayan site yet discovered, and it is also the easiest to access. Xunantunich is situated on a ridge, near the banks of the Mopan river in the Cayo District.
Some thirty or more miles South of Xunantunich and further to the South West from Altun Ha is Caracol (Shell) and is located in the highlands of Vaca Plateau. It is often considered to be the most magnificent ruins of the ancient world in Belize, and it certainly qualifies as among the largest that exists of the Mayan culture. This site was entirely covered by the rain forest for more than 1000 years and therefore is not as extensively restored as many of the other Mayan sites since it was only found in 1937 by local logger, Mrs. Rosa Mai. It is thought that Caracoal was the home of 150,00 people which is larger that today’s Belize City.
South East of Caracol is Labaantun (Place of the Fallen Stones) which is to the North West of Punta Gorda by about 15 miles and near the southern tip of Belize. As you can see, we have now traveled from the Northeastern tip of Belize at Altun Ha to the Southern tip. In the right location of Lubaantun, such as the top of the tallest building, one can see the Caribbean Sea. Although it is thought that this place was only inhabited for approximately 160 years, there is evidence that it was a thriving administrative center. Guatemalan obsidian and jade and the remains of deep sea marine life have been found in this location as well as carved whistles and other musical instruments.
Here is a full list of Maya Ruins in Belize
Mayan ruins located in Belize are Actun Tunichil Muknal, Altun Ha, Baking Pot, Cahal Pech, Caracol, Cerros, Chaa Creek, Colha, Cuello, El pilar, K’axob, Lamanai, La Milpa, Louisville, Lubaantun, Marco Gonzalez, Mayflower, Nim Li Punit, Noh Mul, Pusilha, San Estevan, Santa Rita Corozal, Uxbenka, Uxbenton, Wild Cane Caye, Xnaheb, Xunantunich and Yalbac.