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Latin America Travel & Tour Information

01 septiembre 2013

The Little Known Mayan Site of Quirigua

The Little Known Mayan Site of Quirigua

So you've climbed Temple IV for the sunrise at Tikal, and you've seen the serpent descending the stairs at Chichen Itza, and hiked though the jungle to El Mirador, so what's left?

In a word, Quiriguá! This place is only little but full of big rocks, which...well... rocks! Due to the geology of the area, i.e. rivers and sandstone, some Mayan groups set up shop here about AD200. Daily struggles included raising enough crops to pay tribute to the stronger city of Copán, all the time while carving out the craziest zoomorphic glyphs on the tallest stelaes in the Mayan world.    

In AD738, tough guy Cauac Sky, fought and overcame the strangle hold of Copan´s ruler '18 Rabbit' who was the last of Copán´s monarchs that had dominated Quriguá for centuries. This catapulted Quriguá into becoming the strongest Mayan city in the region. They think that Cauac Sky then commissioned, among others, a 35 feet tall, 5 feet wide, 4 feet thick, 130,000 pound stela and huge unquarried zoomorphic carved stones in tribute to their victory, their ancestor, and of course, himself. The details and designs are like no others in the Mayan world and all were done without the use of metal tools! My favourite is a huge rock carved in the shape of a jaguar complete with teeth, claws, spots and the face of a human coming out of its mouth. This maybe indicates an ancestor coming to communicate with the people via the gods. Or some unfortunate who got gobbled up. You decide!    

You have to get there with private transport along the road from Guatemala City to Rio Dulce and then drive 4km through some United Fruit banana plantations to find it, but once there it is a great place to contemplate the past and to have a picnic. And at only Q25 to get in it's a bargain!

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