Tikal is the ruin of an ancient city, which was likely to have been called Yax Mutal, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. During the Classic Period, it was one of the largest and most important of the Mayan cities. Tikal city is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today it’s one of the most fascinating and enjoyable of the Mayan sites to visit, largely due to its remoteness, but also its jungle setting. Tourists still descend on it by the busload, but it’s far from feeling overrun like Chichen Itza and other sites. Some of the temples are still being uncovered, and you can watch archaeologists busy at work.
History of Tikal city
Tikal was a Maya city of great power and size, the largest of Maya cities during the “Classic Era” over 1000 years ago. Tikal city was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya.
Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, c. 200 to 900 AD. During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico.
There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century AD. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned.
Tikal is the best understood of any of the large lowland Maya cities, with a long dynastic rule list, the discovery of the tombs of many of the rulers on this list and the investigation of their monuments, temples, and palaces.
Interesting Facts about Tikal city
1. Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya Civilization.
2. The best time of Tikal was during the Classic Period, from 200 AD to 900 AD. In this period, Tikal was in charge of the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily.
3. The name Tikal may be derived from ti ak’al in the Yucatec Maya language, and it is said to be a relatively modern name meaning “at the waterhole”.
4. It was used as the scenario for one of the star wars movies and used as a model for one of Mel Gibson’s movies: Apocalipto.
5. There are traces of early agriculture in Tikal that dates as far as 1000 BC. A cache of Mamon ceramics, for example, dates from about 700-400 BC were found in a sealed Chultun, a subterranean bottle-shaped chamber.
6. The population of Tikal City is estimated to have been of around 50,000 habitats and 90,000 at its highest point making it one of the biggest cities of its time.
7. In 1979, Tikal has declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
8. Its highest building is the one that was called by archaeologists: Temple IV. Its actual name is Temple of the Two Headed Snake and is 70 mts. high. You can climb all the way to the top and enjoy the best views of the whole place.