View of another temple from the top of 216
When Hernán Cortés launched into the conquest of Mexico and Central America, he met two civilizations whose development, in many fields, astonished the conqueror. Aztecs and Mayans were the predominant cultures in this part of the World that would suffer the curse of colonization by Europeans.
It was one of Cortes' generals, Don Pedro de Alvarado, who was in charge of expanding the dominance of the Spanish crown in Guatemala and who was going through the jungle to find the advanced and organized Mayan cities. However, they had been abandoned long before.
Although in Guatemala today the main archaeological site is the famous Tikal, I advise to everyone who visits the Guatemalan jungle of Petén Do not leave aside the nearby city of Yaxhá.
With their more than five hundred structures, the archaeological site of Yaxhá - of more than 37,000 hectares and located about 30 kms southeast of Tikal- is one of the best kept secrets of the mayan world. It is considered that it was erected during the Classic period and inhabited since 600 BC. from C. to 900 of our era. The hypotheses about its abandonment are many: by a terrible drought, an excessive demographic growth, a rebellion of the lower classes or by the erosion of the farmland.
One of the squares of Yaxhá
We fly from the capital of the country -City of Guatemala- to the Mundo Maya international airport, in the Petén jungle. We spent the night in an eco-hotel located in the middle of the jungle, next to a lake where crocodiles and a multitude of birds accompanied us at dawn while we ate our breakfast.
We moved by van to Yaxha and our friend and guide Willy Posadas began his master class on this impressive Mayan cultural legacy.
Yaxhá is fully integrated in the Petén jungle. In the times when it was a powerful city, its avenues and roads were completely clear. They cut down trees, created modern water channeling systems and cultivated land to feed the inhabitants. Today, the jungle has reclaimed its land and we walked from shadow to shadow trying to withstand, in the best possible way, the humid tropical heat that already suffocated us at 9 in the morning.
We were the only visitors to the park that morning. We had a whole Mayan city like Yaxhá for us and we took the opportunity to enjoy it with tranquility.
The 216 temple of Yaxhá