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Tikal was one of the more important, if not the most important, urban center of its time in the Maya area. This is evident in the more than 3,000 structures extending over six square miles and including palaces, tempes, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, terraces, plazas, avenues and steam baths.

The visitor who comes to Tikal, even if he or she has visited this ancient city before, is dazzled by the imposing Great Plaza and the architectural immensity of its temples. Temple I, known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar, looks to the west through the plaza from a height of over 170 feet. Temple II, which faces it, is called the Temple of Masks, has a flat form and reaches 139 feet.

The esplanade which separates them covers aproximately two-and-a-half acres, and its original floor goes back to 150 years before Christ. 70 stelae and altars, two palace complexes known as acropolis can be find here. But the collosal remains of Tikal include many other buildings, among them Temple IV, the highest in the area at about 200 feet. Archaeologists estimate that it required almost 2,000 tons of material to build.

At the same time, there are another 200 altars and stelae, hundreds of burial sites and ritual offerings. The findings in Tikal, which can be seen both in museums in the park itself and in Guatemala City, show the delicacy of its ceramics and jade carvings, as well as lintels carved from hardwood. All these monuments and more than 100,000 tools, objects of worship and decoration which have been found here, demostrate that life in Tikal was uninterrupted for at least a thousand years.

Museo Sylvanus Morley -- This small museum in Tikal, at the start of the path towards the ruins, contains a fascinating collection of objects found during excavations at the site. Outstanding are the offerings to King A Cacau, consisting of carved jade, engraved bone, and shells. A new museum has recently been opened to assure the conservation of the stelae.


 

Walking; Tikal Natural Park is not only the home of the monumental Maya City. There are about 125 thousand acres of nature forests with many vegetation spices, many of them threatened, such as cedar and mahogany.

Tikal is also the refuge for most of the mammals in Guatemala, and it is a place where they can be easily seen. In the walks along the paths, spider and howler monkeys are visible to the visitor who, with a bit of luck, will also be able to see red coatis, racoons and white-tailed deer.

In the areas open to the public, encounters with pumas and jaguars are not likely. Because of its importance and magnificent combination of nature and archaeological remains, Tikal has been declared a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


 

Bird Watching; Tikal is considered one of the privileges places for watching both local and migratory birds. The refuge of toucans, parrots, macaws and humming birds, Tikal is also the home of large birds and birds of prey. Recent studies have found rare falcons, such as the orange breast falcon, in this park.

The main interest in the area, however, is the combination of archaeological remains of the ancient Maya city and the natural environment of the Pet´┐Żn jungle, which makes it the only place in the world which has been declared both Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity at the same time by UNESCO.

Tikal is to be found in the National Park which bears the same name, covers an area of over 125 thousand acres and is almost totally covered by mature forests. There is a great quantity of plant species, many of them endangered, like cedar and mahogany.

This park is not only a refuge for most of the mammals in Guatemala, but is also makes it possible to see them easily. Spider monkeys and howeler monkeys, known locally as zaraguates, do not go unseen by the visitor who, with a bit more luck, can also see red coatis, racoons and white-tailed deer. In the areas open to the public, encounters with pumas and jaguars are unlikely. In the park, more than 300 species of birds have been recorded, from hummingbirds to enormous birds of prey. Reptiles, in particular snakes, are also abundant.