Xunantunich Ruins

Xunantunich Ruins Itineraries:

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Xunantunich Ruins

Xunantunich Ruins

San Pedro is the undisputed super center of the tourism industry in Belize, yet manages somehow to balance the large on slot of visitors with a fun, laid back atmosphere.

The name Xunantunich derives from the Yucatec Maya language and means “Stone Woman.” Local legend has it that around the end of the 1800s, a gentleman from the village of San Jose Succotz Belize went hunting near the site and while crossing the base of the Castillo, he was struck by the appearance of a beautiful statuesque Maya maiden, dressed in traditional “huipil” and “pik,”, seemingly illuminated by the sun’s rays. The woman stood motionless by the mouth of a cave which extended beneath the large structure. The man, stunned by her appearance, threw his gun aside and ran downhill to the village where he recounted his story. Word spread and, led by the local priest, the village returned to the site. They found the mouth of the tunnel, but the stone maiden had disappeared. Thereafter locals claim that the woman has appeared to several others but none have been able to follow her into the great cavern.

Dr. Thomas Gann, a Bristish medical doctor, was said to be the first to explore Xunantunich in the 1800s. There was a photo taken, and displayed in several museums in 1904, but after that activities at the site where abandoned until 1924 when Dr. Gann returned. It was on this second visit, as records have it, that Gann discovered Maya treasure.

Since Gann’s find, a number of noted archaeologists have led excavations at Xunantunich and today there are continuous excavations and restorations since by the University Of California (ULA). A complete visitor’s center has been built which displays a model of the site, photos, maps and graphical explanations of significant events in the development of the city.

Xunantunich Ruins

In comparison to neighboring sites, the history of the Maya at Xunantunich is relatively short. Early Belize Maya settlers may have established a small village at the site during the Middle ,Preclassic (600-300 BC) period, but the ancient city, as we know it, rose to prominence and declined between AD 700 to 1000. This rather late development is unusual because it indicates that while most other cities in the region were waning during the troubled Terminal Classic period (AD 800-900), the fortunes of Xunantunich were on the rise.

The center of Xunantunich sits on an artificially leveled limestone ridge that stands almost 183 meters above sea level. From this core area the site branches outward to encompassing settlements that extend for several miles. The epicenter consists of four major architectural groups. The most prominent of these is Group A, which is dominated by the 40 meter tall structure known as “El Castillo”. The eastern and western summit of El Castillo have large stucco friezes with carved elements that represent astronomical symbols, the sun god, moon and Venus.

Surrounded by brilliant green jungle, rich with history and incredibly impressive architecturally, the Xunantunich Ruins are a must visit when adventuring in Belize.


Xunantunich Ruins Accommodation


Chaa Creek Resort
Chaa Creek’s 23 palm thatched cottage rooms ensure a good night’s sleep and delightful mornings accompanied by the sing song of a rain forest waking up, and guests can choose to upgrade to a complete garden suite, an Orchard and Spa Villa, Macal Cottage or Tree Top Suite, all equipped with a Jacuzzi for even more comfort.

Belize Family Adventure


Ka’Ana Luxury Resort
This luxury hotel is nestled in the middle of the Belize jungle. Ka'Ana's five graciously appointed suites all offer private entrances with lovely outdoor sitting areas overlooking the pool or tropical gardens.

Luxury Belize Honeymoon


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