Xunantunich, Cayo District, Belize 🇧🇿
Xunantunich is a Mayan archaeological site located near Cahal Pech, on the border of Guatemala and Belize. Its name means "stone virgin" in Mayan. Located at the top of a hill, with the Mopan River flowing at its feet, it is accessible by ferry. This site has been known since 1938, when it was cleaned and mapped. The place is famous for its well-preserved stucco frescoes, which have been restored around the floor of the main pyramid. The ceremonial center of Xunantunich is not very extensive. It covers an area of 2.6 km², but still includes three ceremonial squares in a row, 26 temples and 6 palaces. The visit of the site requires about half a day because of its small size.
Excavations were also carried out on the south side of the El Castillo monument in 1996. El Castillo is one of the principal Mayan remains in Belize. This temple, flanked by pyramidal structures, is one of the major monuments of a civilization that reached its apogee between the seventh and tenth centuries A.D. It is the largest and most famous temple on the site. It is decorated with frescoes and masks of a disconcerting beauty. The view from the top of the temple on the whole surrounding area is also sublime. It is therefore highly recommended to climb to the top. This temple was for a long time considered as the highest in Belize, since it reaches 40 meters in height. However, it was demoted to second place after the discovery of the site of Caracol.
The basic institutions of the Maya civilization were developed between approximately 2500 BC and 250 AD. The peak of this civilization took place during the classical period, which began around 250 AD.