"Maya ruins in the forest" Tikal by Gizia

Tikal Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 23 photos

During the Classic period of the Maya civilization, the great city of Tikal thrived in dense lowland jungle of what is now part of Guatemala. Buildings ranged from simple thatched-roofed homes to palaces and lofty pyramids topped by temples. In the ceremonial heart of Tikal are pyramids that include the highest known structure built in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans.

The population of Tikal may have reached more than 50,000, including the inhabitants of its peripheral and rural areas.

Around AD 900, Tikal declined as Maya civilization in the region suffered the mysterious collapse that marked the end of their Classic period. Possible reasons include overpopulation, environmental degradation, drought and the Maya's long history of warfare.

Tikal was abandoned by the Maya and over the centuries it became a lost city as its buildings were reclaimed by the jungle. Some structures have now been cleared and restored, but most of Tikal still lies beneath a canopy of tropical forest alive with birdsong and the calls of howler monkeys.

  • Last visit to Tikal: Aug 2003
  • Intro Updated Sep 18, 2003
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