Kohunlich archaeological site

sights / Historic

Lonely Planet review

The Kohunlich archaeological site sits on a carpeted green. The most accessible of the corridor's ruins has nearly 200 mounds still covered in vegetation. The surrounding jungle was a thick tangle of half-felled trees at last pass.

The ruins, dating from both the late pre-Classic (AD 100-200) and the early Classic (AD 300-600) periods, are famous for the great Templo de los Mascarones (Temple of the Masks), a pyramid-like structure with a central stairway flanked by huge, 3m-high stucco masks of the sun god. The thick lips and prominent features are reminiscent of Olmec sculpture. Of the eight original masks, only two are relatively intact following the ravages of archaeological looters. The masks themselves are impressive, but you can only see them from close up because the large thatch coverings that have been erected to protect them from further weathering obscure the view. Try to imagine what the pyramid and its red masks must have looked like in the old days as the Maya approached them across the sunken courtyard at the front. A few hundred meters southwest of Plaza Merwin are the 27 Escalones (27 Steps), the remains of an extensive residential area. The hydraulic engineering used at Kohunlich was a great achievement; 90,000 of the site's 210,000 sq meters were cut to channel rainwater into Kohunlich's once enormous reservoir.