Ruta Maya Continues…
These sites are the most known excavated sites that are accessible by private vehicle. The following sites are open to the public each day from 8am to 5pm with small admission fees:
- Altun Ha
- Santa Rita
- Nim Li Punit
Children twelve (12) years and under are admitted free of charge.Nationals are admitted free of charge on Sundays., PLEASE NOTE that this does NOT” apply for public and bank holidays.
|Altun Ha- Belize District|
Altun Ha, a major Classic Period center, is located 30 miles north of Belize City, near Rockstone Pond Village, 6 miles from the sea, in the Belize District. The entrance to the ruins is approximately one mile from Mile 32 of the Old Northern Highway.
Altun Ha, the most extensively excavated ruin in Belize, was a major ceremonial center during the Classic Period, as well as a vital trade center that linked the Caribbean shores with other Maya centers in the interior.
The ruin consists of two main plazas with some thirteen temple and residential structures. The “Jade Head”, representing the Sun God, Kinich Ahau, was the most significant find during excavations. At approxmately six inches high and weighing nine is and three-quarter pounds, it is still to this day the largest carved jade object in, the whole Maya area.
To the Maya, it was a powerful southeastern trading post linking the Caribbean shore with the cities of the interior. Dr. David M. Pendergast, who headed the major excavations, named the site Altun Ha or “rockstone water” after Rockstone Pond which was mistakenly thought to be the main reservoir of the area.
|Lubaantun – Punta Gorda District|
Lubaantun means “place of the fallen rocks.”Lubaantun lies on a ridge above a valley cut by a tributary of the Columbia River, which is a quarter of a mile from the site. Streams flow around the base of the ridge and below the site is an expanse of tropical forest. This site is not accessible by public transportation. There is a 20 minute walk from the road to the ruins. Accomodations are available in Punta Gorda Town 20 miles away and in the village of San Antonio, 5 miles away.
One of Lubaantun’s most astonishing features is that its structures were constructed entirely without the aid of mortar: each stone used at the site was carefully measured and cut to fit exactly with the stones it adjoins. The strength of the structures was thus entirely dependent on this fit rather than on any form of cement.
|NumLi Punit Stelae- Punta Gorda District|
|up close Stelea – Punta Gorda District|
Nim Li Punit
Nim Li Punit means the ‘place of the stelae.’ Excavations at this ceremonial center, discovered in 1976, indicated that it was important during the Late Classic Period.
Of the more than 25 stelae found at the site, at least 8 are carved, one of which remains the tallest carved stela in Belize and in most of the Maya area, measuring 9 meters (31 feet). The name is Maya for “bighat” and was taken from the person wearing a very large headdress on the tallest stela.
|waterfall near Lim Ni Punit|
Nim Li Punit is located off the Southern Highway about 25 miles north of Punta Gorda Town (c.a. mile.75), and is not accessible by public transportation. Buses from Belize City to Punta Gorda run 3 times per week and pass by the site. The ruins are a fifteen minute walk from the road. The nearest accomodations are in Punta Gorda Town.
|El Castillo of Xunantunich in Cayo District|
Xunantunich means “lords of war and fertility.” One mile north of Benque Viejo, across the green crystalline waters of the Mopan River, is the largest ceremonial center in the Belize River Valley. The ruins of Xunantunich are located approximately eight miles west of San Ignacio- Town at San Jose Succotz Village in the Cayo District.
|view from top of Xunantunich|
Spanning time from the early Protoclassic to the Terminal Classic Periods, Xunantunich consists of three ceremonial plazas enclosed by house mounds, pyramids, and palaces, the largest decorated with friezes and masks of Classic style. Xunantunich is the longest established archaeological site in Belize; a government reserve with a full time guide.
|Santa Rita in Corozal District|
Santa Rita means “ancient chetumal.” The modern town of Corozal is built over the ancient Maya center of Santa Rita. This site was important during the Late Post Classic Period (c.a. A.D. 1350-1530), and was occupied up to the time of Spanish contact in the 1500’s. The largest building in the central core has been excavated and consolidated. Archaeological investigations there have shown Santa. Rita to be the ancient province of Chetumal where a large part of the Post Classic civilization once thrived.Corozal is easily accessible by public transportation, and hotel accomodations are available in town. Santa Rita, on Corozal Bay, was in all probability the ancient and important Maya city of Chetumal. The site’s importance derived from its control over the trade routes that ran along the coast and down the Rio Hondo and New Rivers, arteries to Lamanai and the Peten along which passed cacao and probably achiote, honey and vanilla – exports to Northern Yucatan.
|Cerros in Corozal District|
Cerros mean “center of Maritime.” Cerros is a Late Preclassic centre with virtually no later additions to its structures, indicating an early demise. David Freidel’s 1973-1979 excavations revealed that the site underwent a transition “from local resource dependency during its initial occupation to regional interaction of goods and services during its final occupation.” It was, then, a trading centre probably based on the sea-borne import of jade and obsidian. Its early decline was possible due to the “general shift of trade routes connecting the highlands and lowlands in the Early Classic. “
Cerros is a short boat ride from Corozal Town, where boats can be hired and accommodation is available. During the dry season, January to April, Cerros can be reached in a rented vehicle by the road which passes through Chunox, Progresso and Copper Bank villages with their beautiful lagoons. No facilities are available at the site itself and insect repellent is needed.