A remnant of the Mam capital, the Zaculeu archaeological zone was restored by the United Fruit Company in the 1940s, leaving its pyramids, ball courts and ceremonial platforms covered by a thick coat of graying plaster. Though hardly authentic, the work goes further than others in simulating the appearance of an active religious center.
With ravines on three sides, the Postclassic religious center Zaculeu ('White Earth' in the Mam language) occupies a strategic defensive location that served its Mam Maya inhabitants well. It finally failed, however, in 1525, when Gonzalo de Alvarado and his conquistadors laid siege to the site for two months. It was starvation that ultimately defeated the Mam.
A small museum at the site holds, among other things, skulls and grave goods found in a tomb beneath Estructura 1, the tallest structure at the site.
Zaculeu is located 4km west of Huehuetenango's main plaza. Buses to the site (Q2.50, 20 minutes) leave about every 30 minutes from 7:30am to 6pm, from in front of the school at the corner of 2a Calle and 7a Av. A taxi from the town center costs Q30 one way. One hour is plenty of time to look around the site and museum.