Top 5 Ancient Ruins in Latin America
When visiting Central & South America, exploring ruins is usually high on the adventurous traveler’s itinerary. In an age where nearly every whim can be satisfied by an iPhone app, visiting these settlements really puts modern life and how easy most humans have it into perspective. Scholars and archaeologists have long studied and marveled at these structurally advanced civilizations, painstakingly constructed out of stone by hand– many of which are located miles away from quarries and are perched high atop rugged terrain. All in all, the exploration of these ancient societies’ ruins is truly an astounding experience and should not be missed.
If you’re thinking of visiting Latin America this year, be sure to check out these 5 Ancient ruins.
5) Copán (Honduras)
Located in Western Honduras close to the Guatemalan border, beautiful Copán is situated among verdant mountain ranges and lush tobacco farms. Copán’s most famous monument is the Hieroglyphic Stairway, composed of 63 steps & several thousand glyphs which tell the story of the royal house of Copán. It’s the longest known text of the Mayan civilization.
4) Tikal (Guatemala)
Tikal National Park is located 7 hours north of Guatemala City. According to archaeologists, ancient Tikal was the largest capitol of all the Mayan cities. The Ruins area of the park contains about 15 miles of ancient structures, about 80% of which are still unexcavated–and only 40% of the ruins in the park have been mapped! During its height in 500 AD, Tikal had a population of 50,000 – 100,000 people and around 900 AD was mysteriously deserted.
3) Tiwanaku (Bolivia)
Tiwanaku is a prehistoric city located on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, on the Bolivian/Peruvian border. It is recognized by scholars to be one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire and a dominate Andean civilization from 500 to 900 AD. What remains of the mysterious settlement include several temples, the impressive Akapana pyramid, symbolic gates, monoliths, and carvings. On June 21 (winter soltice for the Southern hemisphere), Tiwanaku celebrates the Aymara New Year which draws nearly 5,000 people annually for a sunrise celebration that includes drinking, dancing, chewing coca leaves, and sacrificing llamas.
2) Chichén Itzá (Mexico)
Of the ancient ruins on the Yucatan peninsula, Chichén Itzá is the largest and is one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. Its most recognizable structures are the Pyramid of Kukulcan (also known as El Castillo), Temple of the Jaguars, and Temple of the Skulls–named for the rows of skulls carved into the stone platforms which represent the heads of sacrificial victims.
1) Machu Picchu (Peru)
Perhaps the most famous of all Latin America’s ancient ruins, Machu Picchu is an mystical and enigmatic place built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. As it’s practically invisible from the Urubama river below, the world was unaware of its existence until 1911. Shrouded by misty Andean cloud-cover this remote area looks as if it’s an extension of the hillside. The palaces, temples, terraces, baths, and nearly 150 homes were meticulously arranged to match the form of the surrounding terrain, and remains in a remarkably preserved state today. Like the other ruins of Latin America, Macchu Picchu was mysteriously abandoned, mostly likely a result of smallpox and the Spanish conquest.
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