Lamanai….. City of Crocodiles

Ruins of The Americas | | May 21, 2009 at 8:30 am


Located on the banks for the New River Lagoon is the ancient ceremonial centre of Lamanai. The impressive Mayan ruins are the largest in Belize and the English translation of Lamanai means submerged crocodile. The city has one of the longest occupation span amongst all Mayan cities lasting over 3,000 years. The city is well engulfed by the forest and one has to climb on top of the temple pyramids to actually get a real picture of the surrounding landscape.

Lamanai is also amongst the very few Mayan cities where the archeologists have uncovered the original name. It is believed that the occupation of the city started in 1500 BC, but the majority of the city construction started around 4th century BC and the Mayan’s occupied the city till 1600 AD. At its peak more then 35,000 Mayan’s lived in the city.

Today much of the city remains uncovered even though there have been many excavations. Some of the main structures uncovered at Lamanai are the Mask Temple, the High Temple, and the Jaguar Temple. The mast temple has Mask carving on the wall at its entrance. The Jaguar Temple has angular jaguar heads adorning its front. The High Temple is a 33 meter high pyramid structure and has a Crocodile Mask carving at its base. Lamanai also has an impressive collection of Maya artifacts in the museum at the site.

The best way to reach Lamanai is by taking a scenic boat ride through dense jungle on the New River. The boat ride starts from Orange Walk Town which is 26 kilometer from the archeological site. Along the New River one can see a magnitude of wildlife including exotic birds, crocodiles, and howler monkeys. Today a lot of cruise ships make a stop at Orange Walk Town and Lamanai is an important tourist destination in the region. The closest airport to the archeological site is in Belize City.

Lamanai City Of Crocodiles

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1 Comment

  1. vareeja says:

    The vast majority of the site remained unexcavated until the mid-1970s. Archaeological work has concentrated on the investigation and restoration of the larger structures, most notably the Mask Temple, “Temple of the Jaguar Masks” and High Temple. The summit of this latter structure affords a view across the surrounding jungle to a nearby lagoon, part of New River.

    A significant portion of the Temple of the Jaguar Masks remains under grassy earth or is covered in dense jungle growth. Unexcavated, it would be significantly taller than the High Temple.

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