Tikal National Park
Declared as Humanity's Natural and Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979, Tikal National Park houses the remains of the largest Mayan city classified as the most important site to the pre-Hispanic Mayan culture, as well as 550 square kilometers of lush tropical rainforest, home to a diverse species of flora and fauna.
The city of Tikal was occupied for almost 1,500 years, starting from before the mid Pre-classic period (800 A.C.) until its abandonment in the IX or 9th century A.D. Structures and monuments found on site relay the importance of history that took place in Tikal, showing the extended period of time during which, celebrations have been taking place honoring the several periods of K' tuna and the prior 9th, 10th, 11th, an 12th Bak´tunes.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
The mapped area is of 16 km2, where more than 4,000 structures and buildings of various kinds are located. The earliest evidence of occupation of the site dates back approximately to the year 800 B.C., a period of the Maya history identified as Middle Pre- Classic. The last found constructions correspond to the Late Classic period, approximately 900 years A.C. These 1,500 years of consecutive occupancy gave it a high cultural, artistic, architectural, urban, mathematic, astronomic, agricultural and commercial development, which has motivated the international admiration and scientific interest.
MOST IMPORTANT SQUARES
It’s located at the epicenter of the entire site and is the most spectacular part of the architectural complex of Tikal, the product of more than a thousand years of constructive activities. To the North, the square is bordered by a row of carved stellae and altars, which contain a big part of the dynastic sequence of Tikal. Immediately to the North stands the complex of ceremonial buildings named the North Acropolis, which also functioned as a mausoleum of the governing families. To the South, and against the ceremonial part, stands another complex of structures like palaces, named Central Acropolis, which was a residential and/or administrative quarter. The East side is occupied by Temple I or Grand Jaguar and a ball court of small dimensions, and to the West stands Temple II or Temple of the Masks.
SQUARE OF THE GREAT PYRAMID OR LOST WORLD:
It’zs located some 300 meters southwest from the Grand Square, and is important because of the presence of the most ancient building of Tikal, currently visible, named Great Pyramid or Structure 5C-54. Itís approximately 35 meters high and is part of a complex of astronomical commemoration together with the structures 5D-84 and 5D-88, located to the East of it. 400 meters to the South of said square is Group 6C-XVI or Group of the Masks.
SQUARE OF THE SEVEN TEMPLES:
It’s located immediately to the East of the square of the Great Pyramid, and is made up of a series of ceremonial buildings of the Late Classic period. These include a three-ball game at the North side of the square, seven temples at the East part and a magnificent ceremonial building at the southern end. The West part of this square is closed by the back of the temples of the square of the Great Pyramid. A 5-door palace corresponding to the Early Classic period can be seen here, which was filled and used as foundation for another building during the Late Classic period.
The roadways Mendez and Maler converge to this square. The temple 5D-38 and the structure 5D-43 can be seen here, which is characterized by its style of Slope-Board, as well as the non restored structures of the market (4) and a ball game. In this area there is a rest house with toilet.
This square has no restored buildings, but plenty of plain stellae and altars. It has a rest house, toilets and a snack bar for the visitors.
In the Tikal National Park there are six big temples, all of them built during the Late Classic period.
It’s also called Temple of the Grand Jaguar. It closes the Grand Square by the East and is 45 m high. It was built around 700 A.C. by the ruling Jasaw Chan Kíawiil I (also known as Ah Cacao, Señor A, 682-734), whose tomb (Burial 116) was found inside it. A replica of it can be seen at the Sylvanus G. Morley Museum.
It’s also called Temple of the Masks. It closes the Grand Square by the West and is 38 m high. Like Temple I, it was built by the ruling Ah Cacao around 700 A.C.
It’s also called Temple of the Great Priest. Itís located to the West of Temple II and is about 60 m high. Stella 24 and Altar 7 are located in front of it. It was built around 810 A.C. This temple has an original carved wooden lintel with its central character wearing a jaguar pelt.
It’s also called Temple of the two-headed Snake. Itís located to the West of the Grand Square and is 65 m high, being the tallest structure in Tikal. It was built around 740 A.C. by the ruling Yikíin Chan Kíawiil (also known as Yaxkin Caan Chac, SeÒor B, 734-746). The visitor can climb to the base of the crest and have a beautiful view of Tikal. To the South of this temple there is a rest house with toilets.
Located to the South of the Central Acropolis, this temple is 57 m high. According to recent excavations, it was built between 550-650 A.C. Its North faÁade is currently restored.
It’s also called Temple of the Inscriptions. Itís located at the southern end of the MÈndez Roadway. Its crest has the longest hieroglyphic text in Tikal, which mentions the date 766 A.C. It was apparently built by the ruling Yikíin Chan Kíawiil, and the glyphic inscription was placed thereafter by the then ruling Chitam. Stella 21 and Altar 9 are in front of this temple.
TWIN PYRAMID COMPLEXES
This name is given to groups of four buildings, which are two truncated pyramids with stairways on each side, located to the East and West of the square; to the South there is a structure with nine entrances and to the North the so called Ground of the Stella. Within this ground there is a stella with its respective altar, normally carved. In front of the pyramid located at the East there are nine plain stellae with their altars, five of which can be visited. In Tikal there are seven of these complexes, which were built at intervals of 20 years to commemorate the end of each Katun (period lasting 20 years).
It’s near Temple IV and was built in 711 A.C. (Maya date: 18.104.22.168.0) by the ruling Jasaw Chan Kíawiil I. It contains replicas of Stella 16 and Altar 5.
It’s located to the West of Complex R. It ís the only one in the North ground that contains a plain stella and altar. Itís considered to have been built in 731 A.C. (22.214.171.124.0).
It’s at the end of the Maudslay Roadway and was built in 751 A.C. (126.96.36.199.0) by the ruling Yikíin Chan Kíawiil. It has replicas of Stella 20 and Altar 8, and it also contains five plain stellae and altars.
It’s located to the East of Complex R. It was built in 771 A.C. (188.8.131.52) by the ruling Yax Nuun Ayiin II (also known as Chitam SeÒor C). Stella 22 and Altar 10 are located here. It also contains nine plain stellae and altars. Itís partially restored, allowing a better idea of what constitutes this type of buildings.
It’s approximately at half of the Maler Roadway. It was also built in 790 A.C. by the ruling Yax Nuun Ayiin II. Stella 19 and Altar 6 are located here.
Three groups of buildings can currently be seen in Tikal, which have been called Acropolis.
It’s to the North of the Grand Square. It has various structures of ceremonial character and masks of the structure 5D-33.
It’s located to the South of the Grand Square. It has various residential and administrative structures, buildings with several rooms and stories, as the Palace of Siyaj Chan Kíawill II (also known as Stormy Sky, 411- 456), the Maler Palace and the Five-Story Palace. It borders to the South with the so called reservoir or watering of the palace.
This area has not yet been surveyed. It’s located between Temple V and the Square of the Seven Temples.