Top 10 less-crowded Mayan ruins and sites | Reuters
(Reuters) – Heard about the end of the world in December 2012 as predicted by the Mayans? The members and editors of online travel consultants VirtualTourist (www.virtualtourist.com) have compiled a list of the “Top Ten Less Crowded Mayan Ruins and Sites” to help you explore the Mayan culture, but keep you off the heavily beaten path to Chichen Itza and Tikal before the impending doom. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
One of the most important cities of Mayan civilization, Calakmul was once home to more than 50,000 inhabitants. Though the city’s timeline goes as far back as the Preclassic period (300 B.C. to 240 A.D.), its golden age was in the Classic period (250 A.D. to 900 A.D.), when it served as Tikal’s main rival and battled for dominance of the central Mayan area. Many visitors might focus on the 6,000 structures within the city, but it’s equally important to experience the surrounding Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, which encompasses over 723,000 hectares (292,594 acres) of protected land and wildlife. While the reserve is a paradise for bird watching, the site itself is a hotbed of stelae, or stone monuments, often in the form of a high-relief sculpture, that were popular and characteristic of the Mayan civilization. 117 stelae have been discovered at Calakmul so far, more than any other Mayan site, and all of them from the Classic period.
2. Clenque, Chiapas, Mexico
Palenque was the most important city of the low western lands during the late Classic period, reaching its peak between 600 and 800 A.D. Along with Tikal and Calakmul, it was one of the most powerful Classic Mayan cities, as well as the seat of the distinguished Pakal dynasty. Much of the architecture (tilted facades on the buildings, stucco-sections) is unique and uncharacteristic of the time period; it has become a real hot spot for archeological research interested in architecture and written language. One of the most notable aspects of Palenque is Temple XIII, where the Tomb of the Red Queen was found in 1994. This tomb is significant because it shares the same platform as the Temple of the Inscriptions, suggesting nobility; the remains found are referred to as “the Red Queen” because the tomb was entirely covered in red cinnabar.