Xunantunich A Day Trip Out Of Martha's Guest House San Ignacio, Belize

Xunantunich Travel Blog

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Xunantunich

Xunantunich "Maiden of the Rock" a Classic period (300 AD - 900 AD) Maya ceremonial center located in the Cayo District of western Belize on the west side of the Mopan River across from San Jose Succotz. At the completion of the road and ferry (ferry hours 7:00AM to 5:00PM) in 1954, this was the first Belize site to be opened to the public. There is a plaza surrounded with pyramidal platforms. "El Castillo" is the tallest at 130 feet. This is large by Maya standards and is only exceeded by the Caana pyramid at Caracol. Xunantunich was occupied until about 900 AD and was likely abandoned after an earthquake. Evidence of an earthquake was documented by archaeologists in the 1990's.  Everyone should climb to the top of "El Castillo." You will be provided with a 360 degree view of the jungle canopy of the Macal, Mopan and Belize River valleys.
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You will also have the opportunity to view the restored portions of two stucco friezes of the east and west sides of the upper portion of the pyramid.

Xunantunich was first investigated in the late 1800's by a British medical officer named Thomas Gann. The first known photographs of the site were taken in 1904 and displayed in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. No further investigations took place until Gann returned in 1924. The report of these activities have been lost. Continuous excavation and restoration has been taking place since 1990 by the University of California (UCLA) under the direction of Dr. Richard Leventhal. There is now a new visitor's center which displays a model of the site, photos, maps and numerous exhibits of the city.
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photo by: Biedjee