Gazing out over the Mopan River Valley, stands Xunantunich, one of Belize’s most beautiful and mysterious ancient Maya Sites. The site’s modern name, pronounced zoo-nan-tun-ich, means ‘stone woman’. It references a local legend of a ghostly belle adorned in white, scaling the steps of El Castillo before disappearing into the stone face at the top.
Read more: Xunantunich – Structures of Many Stories
Deep in the jungle of Belize’s Chiquibul National Forest stands Caracol, Belize’s largest Maya site. Spanning over 75 square miles – approximately five times the size of modern Belize City. In its center rises Caana, meaning sky palace, which reigns as the tallest standing structure in Belize.
Read more: Caracol – The Sky Palace
Like many ancient ruin sites, the Maya City of Altun Ha is filled with mystery and wonder. Known as Rockstone Pond in Mayan, it is located close to the coast, approximately 31 miles north of Belize City. It was once an ideal place for commerce in the ancient Maya world. Nowadays, the proximity to Belize City makes Altun Ha a popular destination for both locals and international travelers visiting Belize.
Situated along the banks of one of Belize’s largest and most impressive river networks, this once great city is now buried in thick jungle. Though the ruins can be reached by road, they are best accessed by boat. The waters of the nearby New River wind from deep in the forests of Northern Belize and empties into the Corozal Bay to the East. The name Lamanai comes from the Mayan Lama’an’ain meaning submerged crocodile – an animal of great importance to the ancient Maya.
Read more: The Ancient Maya Site of Lamanai
Nim Li Punit + Lubaantun
Discoveries made at the ancient sites of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit in southern Belize serve as keys to uncovering the true nature of the value of music to the ancient Maya. The jungles around Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun are lush and vibrant. In the nearby village of Punta Gorda, the drums of the Garifuna people beat passionately at the seaside, while the spirits of Maya ancestors at Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun sit back, quietly enjoying the sounds of the jungle rain.
Read more: Nim Li Punit + Lubaantun
At Cahal Pech, in Belize’s Cayo District, a recent discovery serves to illuminate the importance of artists to ancient Maya culture. It is located on a hilltop along the west bank of the Macal and Mopan Rivers, which make up the Belize River. Though Cahal Pech means, place of Ticks, it’s more likely today to encounter mosquitos so repellent is highly recommended.
Read more: Cahal Pech