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The Ancient Ruins of Guatemala

Category: Excursions

8 Sep 2013 | 04:55 AM

Guatemala is often overlooked as a tourist destination in South America. Many prefer the more exciting cities of Mexico, Bahamas and Cancun. But, if you wish to discover even more exciting ancient ruins, there are plenty to discover in Guatemala.

Most probably, your flight will take you to the heart of the country's capital, Guatemala City. Moving on to the next province of more exotic ambience may prove to be more than a temptation. But, you are better off putting a reign on your excitement.

Guatemala City has plenty of offerings you don't want to miss. A day or two spent in the city should be well worth it. If you cannot go anywhere else, at least pass by the Parque Central for a good overview of the capital. On site you'll find the National Palace, National Library and the Cathedral. They make for great photo opportunities before you start loading up your camera with endless ancient ruins shots.

Art aficionados will want to drop by the National Museum of Modern Art or the Popol Vuh Museum for a beautiful collection of colonial art. If you are into neo-classical and Baroque church architecture, you don't want to miss out on the many centuries old churches in the city such as the Hermitage in El Carmen.

After a short exploration of Guatemala City, be on your way to it's many ancient ruins. First up is one of Guatemala's prized ancient sites located in the city of Tikal. This spectacular find is estimated to stand (and buried) in more than 6 square miles of territory complete with causeways and plazas among its many temples and buildings.

You will no doubt be in awe at the vastness of this archeological site, where impressive Mayan architecture is most evident in the remains of about 3000 structures! Even more impressive is the fact that this spectacular ancient ground is believed to date back to 800 BC. You may also want to stop at the Sylvanus Morley Museum at the site's entrance for a more detailed study of the intricate sculptures and frescoes of this long lost era.

The Mayans were an astoundingly advanced civilization. To see for yourself, check out additional ruins in Ceibal where you'll find an ancient observatory believed to have been used to study the expanse of the sky, the stars and and heavenly bodies! Nearby is the Altar de los Sacrificios, and if your imagination is crazy enough you just might have a hair-raising experience while in the area.

Quirigu, near the port of Puerto Barrios, displays one of the most interesting Mayan finds - the biggest carved stelae unearthed in the country. These intricately designed altars reflect not only the belief system of the ancient Mayan people but also tell a story of some of the most significant periods of their history.

The Las Capuchinas in the old capital of Antigua is hailed as one of the most beautiful ruins in the country. Although not Mayan in origin, it is a beautifully preserved convent established by Spanish nuns back in 1736 and well worth a visit. The site features charming gardens and courtyards. With its strategic geographic location, it offers some of the most panoramic views in the country and I am sure you will find them awe-inspiring.

If you are still hungry for more interesting ruins in Guatemala, check out Abaj Takalik, El Mirador, Uaxact and Yaxh to name only a few. Each of these sites offers something unique and fascinating and you may find them especially appealing to your curiousity.