Cayo District

Xunantunich, meaning “Maiden of the Rock”, was opened in 1954. The history of Xunantunich began in the late 1800s when it was first explored by a British. But nothing was further established until 1924 when many Mayan treasures were found. What can be seen today at many of the local museums is that of a Classic period (300-900) AD ceremonial centre with large plazas and pyramids. The site is composed of six major plazas and surrounded by more than twenty-five temples and palaces.

The most prominent structure located at the south end of the site is the pyramid “El Castillo” (The Castle), which rises 130 feet high above the plaza, was occupied until 900 AD. “El Castillo” was the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize until the discovery of “Canaa” at Caracol. Over the past 70 years many archaeologists have done many excavations. Overlooking the Mopan river, the Maya site of Xunantunich is located approximately eight miles west of San Ignacio Town at San Jose Succotz Village in the Cayo District. Xunantunich is accessible by public transportation, but after crossing the Mopan River by way of a hand-cranked ferry, you must walk about one mile to the entrance of the site. With us, you will be ferried across along with our vehicle, thus eliminating the walk. Take a steep, but short, climb to the top of “El Castillo.” This vantage point provides a breath taking, 360 degree, panoramic view over the jungle canopy of the Macal, Mopan and Belize River valleys, as well as a vast area of the Guatemalan Peten District.

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