Monday, November 22, 2010

Tikal, Guatemala: Impressive as Ever

There can be no doubt that the Maya ruins of Tikal in northern Guatemala rank among the most impressive archaeological sites on the planet. I revisited Tikal in October and was once again awed by its grand scale and towering pyramids, which are arguably the most dramatic in the Maya world.

I spent several hours wandering along jungle trails and exploring hidden plazas surrounded by maze-like temple complexes, mossy pyramids, and abandoned ceremonial platforms. But the high point (literally) of my visit was the climb up the steep wooden staircase that clings to the side of 65-meter-high Temple IV, the tallest pyramid at Tikal and the second tallest built by Maya.

The panoramic view from the top of Temple IV is inspirational, and it is probably much the same as the one enjoyed by ancient Maya priests and astronomers whose lofty domain this once was. In the distance, Temples I and II stand like massive stone sentinels, poking their intricately carved roof combs through a dense forest canopy that unfurls like a green carpet for as far as the eye can see.

Below is a slide-show of my photos of Tikal and the nearby town of Flores located on an island in Lake Peten Itza. Move the cursor over the screen to view the captions. Click on individual  photos to see larger versions and for information about ordering prints or downloading files for personal, editorial or commercial use.

Tikal and Flores, Guatemala - Images by John Mitchell

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