When most people think of Mayan culture the first thought is El Dorado, the lost city of Gold, or possibly just the Disney movie: The Road to El Dorado. However, the Maya culture and ancient buildings have a lot more to offer us in rich and interesting experiences. One of these places is The Pyramids Of Tikal, The Largest Mayan City. That’s right. Egypt wasn’t the only place to build mysterious Pyramids and dedicate them to the royal dead and their deities.

Important History To Know about the Tikal pyramids

The largest of the Pyramids is officially known as Temple IV, the tallest pyramid by an astonishing 230 feet high. The fourth enormous structure in Takal is known as the Temple of the Jaguar Priest of Temple III. This measures roughly 180 feet tall and it’s believed to be the final resting place of Lord Chi’taam, the last man to run Tikal.


The last of the massive pyramids in Tikal is known as Temple V. It stands roughly 187 feet tall and is a known mortuary site, yet through all the years archaeologists have yet to discover whose remains are inside. However, this pyramid, along with the others, contains more than 186 hieroglyphs describing the city’s history. So much can be learned about the ancient Mayan civilization through these hieroglyphs.

There are 9 surprising things to know about The Pyramids of Tikal:

  1. Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the Mayan civilization. If you love history and learning about other cultures this is the ultimate destination.
  2. The name Tikal is suggested to be derived from the word ti ak’al which means “at the watering hole” in the Yucatec Maya language.
  3. There are traces of early agriculture in Tikal that date back to 1000 BC.
  4. The architecture of Tikal is built from limestone and includes the remains of temples that tower over 300 feet! The large royal palaces and a number of smaller pyramids, palaces, residences, administrative buildings, platforms, and inscribed stone monuments.
  5. Tikal is suggested to be the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya civilization.
  6. The Tikal National Park covers an area of 222 miles and was created on May 26, 1955.
  7. The population estimates for Tikal vary from 10,000 to as high as 90,000 inhabitants.
  8. The dynastic line of Tikal, founded as early as the 1st century AD, spanned 800 years and included at least 33 rules.
  9. The tallest structure in Tikal is 213 feet high and is the temple of the two-headed snake that was built by King Yaxkin Caan Choc in 470 AD. This temple is a must climb for the adventurous!

Related: These 10 Amazing Ancient Cities Are Still Standing

Visitor Highlights of Tikal Mayan Ruins

Tikal was first occupied as a small village in the middle Formative Period (900-300 BCE); subsequently, in the Late Formative Period (300 BCE - 100 CE), it became an important ceremonial center with the construction of major pyramids and temples.

Civilizations like the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and Inca all built pyramids to house their deities, as well as to bury their kings. In many of their great city-states, temple pyramids formed the center of public life and were the site of holy rituals, including human sacrifice.

Abandoned by its original inhabitants more than a thousand years ago, the city remained unknown to outsiders for almost a millennium. However, in 1525, Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortex passed within a few dozen miles of the place without learning of it! Likewise, in 1984, the American explorer John Lloyd Stephens and the British illustrator Frederick Catherwood reported with great fanfare their “discovery” of the ruins of the Mayan region, but they still missed Tikal! It remained hidden until 1848. Even the name ‘Tikal’ wasn’t discovered until much later.

Then hidden in the jungle of Tikal is its last mystery: the complex pyramids. This was the final piece to be discovered between 1979 and 1985. It was here that it was discovered this was their ancient burial ground and wondrous spots for rituals and dedications to their deities. There is still so much about this amazing land and historical site to be discovered. New things are constantly being found and learned about. More and more treasures and informational pieces are being discovered constantly about the Mayan culture and the riddles of their great pyramids.

This majestic land of history is the perfect place for hiking adventures and learning about wonderful culture and history for all types of travel and adventure. There is so much to learn and discover in this magical place. So many things to see and learn about when exploring the Pyramids of Tikal. This will prove to be one of the best experiences and hiking trips for all who venture here. Come experience why this is one of the top places to visit throughout all of South America. What discoveries of histories will be yours?

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