Tikal, that means “the place of spirit voices” is a ruined Maya city that lies amidst the lush rainforests of Northern Guatemala in the heart of the Peten region. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tikal is one of the largest archeological sites and urban centers of the Maya civilization. Tikal was the capital of one the most powerful kingdoms. It was the largest of the Maya cities during the “Classic Era” over 1000 years ago. Eventually Tikal was abandoned completely and consumed by the jungle. It was forgotten for a long time and finally discovered again in 1848. During the 1960s the University of Pennsylvania oversaw major excavation work that was then continued by the Guatemalan government in the 1970s.
The city has been completely mapped and covered an area greater than 16 square kilometers, that included about 3000 structures.The ancient city is built from limestone and includes the remains of temples, royal palaces, pyramids, palaces, residences, administrative buildings. Thousands of structures have been discovered in Tikal, but only a fraction have been excavated. There are six major structures, six step pyramids, each with a temple of top. These structures are named Temple I through VI. Although most of the buildings in Tikal have no name and are identified only by a number or letter, the most significant sights have been named. So temple I is called the Temple of the great Jaguar, Temple II is the Temple of the Mask, and the central area of the complex is called the Great Plaza.
It is curious to note that in December 2012, during the celebration of the Mayan “End of the World”, Tikal became one of the most important destinations for thousands of tourists from all over the world.