The pandemic has forced us home. It has prevented us from traveling and being able to discover new and fascinating places. For this reason, we thought it would be refreshing to show you around and take you to some of the wonders of our land. What are the must-sees of Guatemala? Well it’s hard to say! Our home is full of so many natural and archaeological beauties. Among them, we have chosen two that we consider the most representative.
So are you ready? Let's buckle up and enjoy the trip!
The first place we are taking you to is Tikal. The most important Mayan archaeological site and the most extensive of the classical era. Here, in the middle of the forest stands the "skyscrapers" of Mayan culture.
The central plaza is surrounded by entirely intact ancient pyramids, with other massive structures hidden among the forest. Having arrived here, we cannot help but climb up one of the constructions. After a series of catwalks, vertical ladders and various attempts not to look down, we arrive at our destination. Let's face it, it's always a little scary to be on top of a pyramid! Steep walls, smooth stones: it may only be a few dozen meters, but it feels like being on the edge of a mountain! But it’s definitely worth it because the view leaves us astonished!
Looking down at the Tikal National Park, there is something magical and ancient that inevitably surrounds us without us noticing it.
The name Tikal was adopted after the "rediscovery" of the city in the mid-nineteenth century. Its inhabitants called it Yax Mutul, as attested by the inscriptions. There are about 3,000 structures, including temples, palaces, residences, altars, terraces, squares, fields for ball games, spread on an area of about 16 square kilometers. Most of these buildings are connected to cisterns through aqueducts. The main ceremonial areas have more than 200 monuments.
The first constructions (Mundo Perdido) date back to 800 BC. The society collapsed between the late 9th and early 10th century AD. At the end of 900 AD, it was completely abandoned.
The national park of Tikal was classified as patrimony Unesco in 1979, one of the few in the world registered for both its naturalistic and cultural value.
El Mirador (The Lookout) is the name given to the site by chicleros (gum harvesters) before its 'discovery' by archaeologists in 1962. Some of the pyramids are so high that provide a breathtaking view of the jungle underneath. La Danta (the Tapir), for example, looms some 70m above the forest floor!
The site is nestled in the furthest reaches of the Petén Jungle.
So get ready because this is the hardest part of the trip! The site is deep in the jungle and the only ways to get there are by helicopter or through the forest.
Definitely the second choice is the one we prefer! It will take us several hours to get there. We immerse ourselves in the beating heart of Guatemala along extraordinary trails and walks in close contact with the jungle and with the background of howling monkeys and other forest animals. It’s kind of a jungle adventure!
El Mirador is archaeologically important because the research conducted here is moving back the clock of the social organization of the Maya. The buildings here, in fact, were erected several centuries earlier than those of Tikal.
El Mirador contains one of the largest clusters of buildings of any single Maya site, among them the biggest pyramid ever built in the Maya world. It was certainly the greatest Maya city of the Preclassic era. All of this magnificence is what is buried here, under this lush, fascinating, and awe-inspiring nature.
After several years of work, only a few parts have been uncovered and torn out from under the nature that has covered them for centuries.
So there is not much to see, but having centuries of history right under your feet always has a certain effect and makes us feel the thrill of adventure in our bones. We feel a bit like Indiana Jones, don’t we?
...and the discoveries are not over yet!
Our tour ends here, but in Guatemala there is so much to do and even more to see!
And in this regard, in recent years, scientists and archaeologists have made an amazing discovery that has led to rethink the Mayan civilization entirely.
Thanks to the use of aerial lasers some archaeologists have discovered that the Mayan settlements were much larger than reported in the current historical documents. In fact, it seems that hidden by the jungle in the Petén region there are thousands of buildings, houses, defense structures and pyramids, which would suggest much larger settlements than observed in the past. It is thought that the Mayan population was as high as ten million!
The results of the aerial survey showed that, with the construction of aqueducts and with their crops, the Maya had altered a much larger area than previously assumed, coming to cultivate up to 95% of the land available in the area. In addition, the surveys have shown very articulated defensive and irrigation structures, which also suggest the presence of a very well-organized workforce, innovative enough to divert the waterways and direct them to the crops.
The Maya were an advanced people. They knew about the planets and the stars; they knew the concept of time; they had their own calendar; they had a numbering system; they developed architecture and engineering; they had dozens of languages.
And their descendants continue to proudly preserve their roots, not giving up their languages, their rituals, their colorful customs.
Guatemala is a land waiting to be discovered.
So don't stop, keep looking, keep snooping and keep falling in love with this beautiful country. And as soon as this period will be over, come visit and breathe in the magic that these places exude.
We at Trama Textiles are waiting for you with open arms!!