Must see attractions in Tikal

  • Sights in Tikal

    Templo I

    Templo I, the Templo del Gran Jaguar (Temple of the Grand Jaguar), was built to honor – and bury – Ah Cacao. The king may have worked out the plans for the building himself, but it was actually erected above his tomb by his son, who succeeded him to the throne in AD 734. The king's rich burial goods included stingray spines, which were used for ritual bloodletting, 180 jade objects, pearls and 90 pieces of bone carved with hieroglyphs.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Templo IV

    Templo IV, at 65m, is the highest building at Tikal and the second-highest pre-Columbian building known in the western hemisphere, after La Danta at El Mirador. The view east is almost as good as from a helicopter – a panorama across the jungle canopy, with (from left to right) the temples of the Gran Plaza, Temple III, Temple V (just the top bit) and the great pyramid of the Mundo Perdido poking through.

  • Sights in Tikal

    El Mundo Perdido

    About 400m southwest of the Gran Plaza is El Mundo Perdido (Lost World), a complex of 38 structures with a huge pyramid in its midst, thought to be essentially Preclassic (with some later repairs and renovations). The pyramid, 32m high and 80m along the base, is surrounded by four much-eroded stairways, with huge masks flanking each one.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Acrópolis del Norte

    The Acropolis del Norte predates the nearby temples significantly. Archaeologists have uncovered about 100 different structures, the oldest of which dates from before the time of Christ, with evidence of occupation as far back as 600 BC. The final version of the acropolis, as it stood around AD 800, had more than 12 temples atop a vast platform, many of them the work of King Ah Cacao.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Museo Sylvanus G Morley

    This museum exhibits a number of superb ceramic pieces from excavations, including incense burners and vases, with descriptions of their uses and significance (in Spanish). The usual museum building is under restoration indefinitely, during which time the ceramics are displayed at the CCIT.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Acrópolis Central

    South and east of the Gran Plaza, this maze of courtyards, little rooms and small temples is thought by many to have been a palace where Tikal's nobles lived. Others think the tiny rooms may have been used for sacred rites and ceremonies, as graffiti found within them suggest. Over the centuries the configuration of the rooms was repeatedly changed, suggesting that perhaps this 'palace' was in fact a noble or royal family's residence and alterations were made to accommodate groups of relatives.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Templo III

    West of the Gran Plaza, across the Calzada Tozzer (Tozzer Causeway) stands Templo III, still undergoing restoration. Only its upper reaches have been cleared. A scene carved into the lintel at its summit, 55m high, depicts a figure in an elaborate jaguar suit, believed to be the ruler Dark Sun. In front of it stands stela 24, which marks the date of its construction, AD 810.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Templo VI

    Templo VI is one of the few temples at Tikal to bear written records. On the rear of its 12m-high roofcomb is a long inscription – though it will take some effort to discern it in the bright sunlight – giving us the date AD 766. The sides and cornice of the roofcomb bear glyphs as well.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Templo V

    Templo V is a remarkably steep structure (57m high) that was built sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD. It consists of seven stepped platforms and, unlike the other great temples, has slightly rounded corners. A recent excavation of the temple revealed a group of embedded structures, some with Maya calendars on their walls. Tempting as it may seem, you are not allowed to scale the broad central staircase.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Plaza de los Siete Templos

    To the west of the Acrópolis del Sur is this broad grassy plaza, reached via a path to its southern edge. Built in the Late Classic Period, the seven temples with their stout roofcombs line up along the east side of the plaza. On the south end stand three larger 'palaces'; on the opposite end is an unusual triple ballcourt.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Templo II

    Templo II, also known as the Temple of the Masks, was at one time almost as high as Templo I, but it now measures only 38m without its roofcomb. It's best used as a viewpoint for Templo I, which is not open for climbing.

  • Sights in Tikal

    CCIT

    This Japanese-funded research center is devoted to the identification and restoration of pieces unearthed at the site. The 1300-sq-meter facility has a huge cache of items to sort through, and you can watch the restorers at work. Though not strictly a museum per se, it features an excellent gallery on the different materials used by Maya craftspeople.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Complejo N

    Between Templo IV and Templo III is Complejo N, an example of the 'twin-temple' complexes erected during the Late Classic Period. This one was built in AD 711 by Ah Cacao to mark the 14th katun, or 20-year cycle, of baktún 9. The king himself is portrayed on the remarkably preserved stela 16 in an enclosure just across the path. Beside the stelae is altar 5, a circular stone depicting the same king accompanied by a priestly figure in the process of exhuming the skeleton of a female ruler.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Museo Lítico

    The larger of Tikal’s two museums is in the visitors center. It houses a number of carved stones from the ruins. The photographs taken by pioneer archaeologists Alfred P Maudslay and Teobert Maler of the jungle-covered temples in various stages of discovery are particularly striking. Outside is a model showing how Tikal would have looked around AD 800.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Complejo Q

    Complejo Q and Complejo R, about 300m north of the Gran Plaza, are very Late Classic twin-pyramid complexes with stelae and altars standing before the temples. Complex Q is perhaps the best example of the twin-temple type, as it has been partly restored. Stelae 22 and altar 10 are excellent examples of Late Classic Tikal relief carving, dated to AD 771.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Acrópolis del Sur

    Excavation has hardly even begun on the mass of masonry just west of the temple, known collectively as the Acrópolis del Sur (South Acropolis). The palaces on top are from the Late Classic Period (the time of King Moon Double Comb), but earlier constructions probably go back 1000 years.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Complejo P

    About 1km north of the Gran Plaza is Complejo P. Like Complejo N, it's a Late Classic twin-temple complex that probably commemorated the end of a katun.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Complejo R

    Complejo R, about 300m north of the Gran Plaza, is a very Late Classic twin-pyramid complex with stelae and altars standing before the temples.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Talud-Tablero temple

    A smaller temple to the western side of El Mundo Perdido, dates from the Early Classic Period, and demonstrates Teotihuacán's influence, with its talud-tablero (stepped building) style of architecture, unusual for Tikal.

  • Sights in Tikal

    Complejo M

    Complejo M, next to Complejo P, was partially torn down by the Late Classic Maya to provide building materials for a causeway, now named after Alfred P Maudslay, which runs southwest to Templo IV.