Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tikal! (3-24)

 My goal was to keep it under 20 photos per entry...
Not going to happen on this one I'm afraid.
(You have been warned.)
Tikal was the heart of the Mayan world. 
The national park itself was created in 1955 and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. 
It was covered by massive amounts of soil, trees and undergrowth when the started to uncover it.
One of the types of trees is the Ceiba tree, which is the official national tree of Guatemala.

The Mayan people called it the "Holy Tree of Life" and considered it the "axle of the world"
They get up to 70 meters tall (70=229 feet- I just looked it up :0)

This is a model of the site with the temples and buildings that have been restored/uncovered thus far.
The city itself dates back over 2500 years. The park covers an area of  576sq kilometers
(576km² = 142332acres--that doesn't seem right- but I just looked that up too?)
Anyway, a LOT of ground!
The archeological site is 16sq kilometers (16km² = 3953ac) 
and had an estimated 3000+ buildings on it.

It was pretty exciting to set off through the jungle to see the site.
Here was the first view of Temple 1,
 or the Great Jaguar Temple, through the trees.

This is the backside. Note that from the base that not the entire temple has been unearthed.
 For size perspective, here I am scratching my cheek in wonder -
 How DID they get all those layers of stone up there with no machinery or large animals to help?

Here is a side view looking at temple 1 from the political acropolis on the south side.
Notice the branches of the Cieba tree on the upper right of the photo.
Those trees get pretty darn tall.

156ft, built around 700A.D.
I mean really. 
Look how many of those stones they had to quarry, transport, 
and then set into place and mortar.
 Mind boggling to me anyway.
Here's the view across the front of temple one to the North acropolis 
(which was the living and official areas for rulers and big wigs). 

Here's a view of that north acropolis from temple 2.
Front view of temple one from the upper level of temple 2
 - straight across the plaza from temple 1.
Note all the sacrificial altars casually strewn about the plaza...

It's not like they made a new altar for every sacrifice.
The sheer number of them suggests there was a LOT of it going on...for many years.
Because there were altars in front of almost every edifice.

I liked this area of the central acropolis.
 It reminds me of something you might see in Greece or Rome.
(Other than the tropical vegetation of course.)

Here is temple 2- aka Temple of the Masks, or Faces. 
Similar to temple one, but shorter at 125ft. built in hone of the wife of the ruler- Ah Cacao

This one we could climb up the backside on wooden stairs
 and get the full view of the plaza (and take all those previous photos).
Temple 2 view
Here's the view from the North acropolis to temple 2.
 I had to wait quite a while for a clear shot without people on the ledge
(where we were standing in the previous photo...dang tourists :0) 

Are you sick of the temples yet?
Here is one of the many as yet uncovered -
and most likely never to be  uncovered-
 buildings that are all over.
The cost of unearthing and maintaining the relics is pretty steep.
  Guatemala has gotten outside help for much of what has been uncovered to date.

For example, this temple, temple 5, which is actually the first temple built around 600AD.
Built by the ruler Animal Skull (descriptive name eh?)
It was being restored a couple years ago with funding from Greece,
until Greece began with their own financial difficulties
so it still has a lot of work to be done on it.

This is one of the twin pyramid complexes. 
They were built to celebrate the end of a Katun (a 20 year period). 
They are exact, radial flat top pyramids, and shrine and a palace. 
These were oriented to every cardinal point, and are a unique architectural style at Tikal.

Almost done with the temples. 
Here is the first view of temple 4, the Two Headed Snake,
which is the highest of all the temples.
 Built in 745AD it rises above the jungle canopy. 
It provides a stunning view of the tops of the other temples.
 We climbed up a steep series of steps to get to the viewpoint here.
It was the hottest part of the day and the heat reflected off the stones made it pretty steamy.

This is one of the few remaining Mayan priests who still practice Mayan rituals in the traditional manner.
We came across him waiting for another tour that was coming to see him perform a fire ritual.
I thought his facial features were lovely.
As we went by I greeted him in Spanish and he gave me a handshake and a sweet smile. 
He was really charming.

This was the only time that the intrepid Virgina did not accompany us the entire time. 
She stayed with the group who opted not to walk the entire way.
So we had Noe (Noah), pictured here trying to call some howler monkeys. 
It was too hot and late in the day so his calls went unanswered.

This day was probably the most intense, memorable of the trip with SO much to see and take in.
I would have liked to have had more time to see all the temples.
But for the time we had - we saw a LOT.
There was more at the end of the day back at the hotel.
And that will have to wait til the next post...
(yeah- I know you're waiting with bated breath).


Lost Woman said...

Well the post I was waiting for.
You got some amazing shots! I can't believe how many you managed without people? How IS that.

Tikal... I'm super jealous...until I see the pictures of you guys slightly burned and sweaty looking and then I think OY! I would die. I've wanted to go there for years you know.
So cool!
And you didn't overdo it on the photos at all in my book.

Miste Chandler said...

Amazing! How awesome is that visit. Very cool. A trip to remember. Love the photos. Such great shots.

Drew and Alicia said...

What a vacation!!