Historical Sites in Central America
Historical Ruins in Central America
Why would one want to travel to Belize to see the historical ruins when so many other famous sites can be seen in Central America? The suggestion to visit Belize has been made as they are the only country (in Central America) whose official language is English. This may make it convenient, however, to persons from all over the world to populate Belize and its Mesoamerican/Mayan ruins during vacation season. Other good reasons include the beautiful tropical beaches and opportunities for great scuba diving adventures just off the shore of the Caribbean.
Actun Tunichil Muknal
This is basically a protected site, but the government has allowed a small number of tours. One is fortunate to visit this site even though it may contain some rather grim contents. These include ritualistic sacrificial (human) sites and some skeletal remains. There are at least four “must-see” caves in the site; Crystal Maiden, End of the Road, Handprint and Stone Sepulchre Caves. The first-mentioned cave contains the remains of a teenage girl – she was probably a sacrificial victim – who is most famous for her sparkling crystallized skeletal remains. The skeletal remains – including her skull – are still highly visible. Artifacts such as pottery, shards and stone tools are still visible. No motor vehicles are allowed in this area.
The antiquity of this archeological site is surprising – it is about 3200 to 2600 years old, as far as is known. It was “rediscovered” in 1937/8 and has only one modern road running to it today (the Western Highway). These ruins are part of the Classical Maya Period (like the previous site). There are several ancient roadways leading to it and may have had as many as 140,000 people at one time. The temple ruins and most of the original reservoirs are very well preserved. Archaeologists and researchers still use one of the remaining reservoirs.
Mayan Cerros may not be as well known as some other Mesoamerican sites, but has left behind a spectacular complex of many structures. Most of these are stepped pyramids, large buildings and two of the infamous “bloodbath” ball courts where the losing team (some of them) were sacrificed to the gods. It is located in Northern Belize near the Bay of Chetumal; it is accessed by a gravel road. One may be greeted by a single archeological official on site.
Lamanai (the “Submerged Crocodile”) is another site of ancient ruins (approximately 3600 years old!) but survived long enough to be conquered by the Spanish! Indeed, it is listed by Maya Belize: Mundo Maya as the longest populated site in Belize. Several Classic Maya structures are still tourist-accessible, though usually by boat from Orange Walk Town. The site is also accessible from Indian Church. It is famed for at least two of these edifices; the Temple of the Masks and the Jaguar Temple. The Jaguar Temple is an important archeological site due to its roughly-styled Jaguar masks and other features. Much of the structure is romantic in appearance due to the fact that the jungle has still reclaimed much of it.
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