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Rating 4.0 (156 votes)


Listed under Archaeological Sites in Tikal region, Guatemala.

  • Photo of Tikal
  • Photo of Tikal
  • Photo of Tikal
  • Photo of Tikal
  • Photo of Tikal
  • Photo of Tikal
  • Photo of Tikal
Photo of Tikal
Photo by flickr user kafka4prez
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The largest of the ancient Classic Mayan cities is spread out within the El Peten rainforest, in Northeastern Guatemala. The ancient structures are spectacular, emerging from the jungle canopy, surrounded by 222 square miles of national park. Like a scene from the Jungle Book, the ruins and forest are now inhabited by animals including howler and spider monkeys, toucans, parrots and the racoon-like coatimundi, who add a noisy and colorful element to the whole experience.

With an estimated population up to 50,000 Mayans living here at the city's peak, between 600-800 AD, the grounds of the site are thought to have once covered 25 square miles - 10 of which are been mapped and excavated to some degree. There are over 3,000 separate structures, including temples, shrines, ceremonial platforms, residences, ball courts, terraces, causeways and plazas, to discover on the site.

Take some time to really explore the grounds, including the Lost World Pyramid and more remote Temple of the Inscriptions. If your visit coincides with a full moon or you’re desperate to see the sun rise, you can request special permission to visit after hours from the park’s administration office.

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Written by  Amber Due.

Other expert and press reviews

“Taking The Tikal Temple Trail”

Situated in the northern part of Guatemala, the ruins of Tikal are considered by many to be the best remaining examples of Mayan architecture around. They are certainly the hottest. As we climbed onboard the battered minibus in Flores at 5am the air was… Read more...

Written by  Kieran Maartens.

“Tikal National Park”

'In the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, lies one of the major sites of Mayan civilization, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. The ceremonial centre contains superb temples and palaces, and public squares acc… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO


Largest of the Mayan city ruins and cultural, population and political centre and during the Classic period of Mesoamerican history. Thousands of individual structures make up the city, only a small percentage of which have been excavated. The most re… Read more...

Written by  Roy Adelwood.

“In Tikal, Temples in the Mist”

By Ethan Todras-Whitehall for The New York Times December 16, 2007 In Tikal, the ancient Mayan city in northern Guatemala, dawn is not seen — it is heard. First, a roar. Then a responding roar, then another and another — not from jaguars, but from howl… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The New York Times

“Secrets of the Lost World”

By Mark Eveleigh for Travel Intelligence By the light of only the tiniest sliver of moon, I climbed the stone face of the Great Pyramid in the area known today as El Mundo Perdido - The Lost World Since a military expedition under Colonel Modesto Ménd… Read more...

Written by press. Full article on Travel Intelligence

“Exploring Tikal”

Located in Guatamala, this ancient Mayan city was breathtaking. During the day, crowds from Belize fill the park but, at night and in the morning, the place is empty. It is only you and the animals. Many of the paths are overgrown and much of the ruins … Read more...

Written by  Matthew Kepnes.

“Jungle Gym: Maya Ruins in Guatemala”

By Jini Reddy for TIME First Published 8th April 2009 Guatemala's most popular Maya ruins lie at Tikal, but for real bragging rights you'll have to head deep into the Peten jungle, where you'll find the ancient city of El Mirador. Dating back to 300 B.… Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on


Arriving early in the morning, we sit high on the top of a temple overlooking the jungle and complex. Howler monkeys roar in the distance and we sit mezmerised by its splendor content to just “Be”. Located in Guatemala, Tikal is one of the … Read more...

Written by  Dave and Deb. Continue reading on Dave and Deb's Blog

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers


One of the best ruins in the world. Climb the steep temples & sit up there looking out over a sea of forest at the other temples sticking up like islands, watching & listening to the monkeys in the trees & walk back with fireflies darting around. The best Maya site: extensive well-preserved ruins of this fascinating culture in remote jungle settings. See 'Apocalypto' before you go.

Great Sunset

Climb Temple IV for the best sunset view - but don't forget to take a torch to find your way down again.


Set within the tropical forests of Guatemala, Tikal’s development from a tribal settlements to urban structure occurred at its earliest around 200BC. Mayan architects designed short, broad temples with wide staircases flanked by enormous stucco masks. There are elaborate masks of Mayan deities are made from incinerated sandstone. The temples are aligned with astronomical pertinence and precision, primarily for alignment with the Spring solstice and geomagnetic grids. The North Acropolis of Tikal held over 100 stone temples on great stone platforms. The wide temple staircases operated as settings for ritual and ceremony, the masks encouraging mythological connections. The structures slower gained in number, size and height, their sacred confines remote and impenetrable. They continue to dominate the landscape of Tikal.

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