Caracol … Place of Three Hills

Ruins of The Americas | | May 22, 2009 at 1:43 am


CaracolIf all Belize Mayan sites have to be ranked for there importance and grandeur then Caracol would be placed on top of the list. Caracol, or El Caracol as it is locally known lies in the foothills of Maya Mountains at an altitude of 1,500 feet. The city is surrounded by dense forest and lies on the Vaca Plateau. Caracol is one of the largest ancient Maya cities and covers an area of 65 square miles and at its peak had a population of over 2,00,000 people. Mayan settlers moved to Caracol around 1200 BC but the bulk of construction happened in between 300 AD and 800 AD. Archeologists have significant proof that the city attacked and conquered Tikal in 562 AD. Later the city also conquered Naranjo in AD 631. These two conquests boosted the military and economic might of the city and propelled population grown in the region.

The main structure in the city is the Caanam a temple pyramid which has a hight of 140 feet and on top of it are 3 smaller temples. There are three main plazas, two ball courts, central acropolis, dozens of structures, and reservoirs. Though much of the city still lies unexcavated but archeologists have found over 200 burials. Hieroglyphics found during excavation give accounts of daily life and also about the battles especially about two battles with Tikal. There is a collection of Maya artifacts, among which is an intriguing ceremonial altar and are displayed in the site. Caracol lies within the boundaries of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. The gigantic Ceiba trees here are certainly bound to mesmerize.

The site excavation and restoration projects have been executed in many phases. The current project started in 1985 and is still underway. Caracol is connected by road to Santa Elena. The journey takes you deep into the jungles of the Maya Mountains, habitat to wild animals such as tapir, jaguar, monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws. Once done with the archeological site the visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim at Rio On Pools. Formed by granite boulders, these series of natural swimming pools is a popular spot to unwind and cool off.


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1 Comment

  1. vareeja says:

    Caracol was the most important political centre of Lowland Maya during the Classic Period within Belize. Ancient Caracol as a site was occupied as early as 1200 BCE. Its greatest period of construction was in the Maya Classic period, with over 40 monuments dated between 485CE to 889CE which record the dynastic sequence of the rulers.

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