Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua

Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua

Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua
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rogerw109
Market Weighton, UK175 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
This is a small interesting Maya site with some interesting carved Stella's in particular one which is the tallest known at 11metres. It is quite an atmospheric place with a small museum on the site. The atmosphere is enhanced by some rather tremendous trees on the site. Well worth a visit en-route to the larger more well known sites.
Written 21 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

retireeVancouver
Vancouver, Canada1,829 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2015 • Couples
I visited this UNESCO World Heritage site in mid-January on a cruise ship excursion. The excursion lasted 4.5 hours which included a 1.5 hour bus ride going to the site and back again to the port of Santo Tomas. We had a 1.5 hour visit to the site. The bus ride was in a comfortable A/C vehicle which travelled on a good 2 lane paved highway.The guide used this travelling time to fill us in on Mayan history, astronomy, and facts about present day Guatemala.

Quirigua is located in the midst of a banana plantation. We were stopped at a "banana crossing" while freshly picked stalks of green bananas were transported on a high wire across the road from the plantation fields to a storage area. We could see the rows of banana trees from the bus window, some workers and trucks, but that was about all. There was no tour of the plantation.

Our first stop at this site was to the museum, after a visit to the washrooms, of course, which had flush toilets, running water, and 1 toilet roll just at the entrance to the washrooms. The display in the museum explained the Mayan's knowledge of the constellations. On the floor was an interesting drawing showing the name of the constellations as we know them, the Mayans' names for these constellations, and a Mayan pictorial representation for each constellation. The Orion constellation, which represented a turtle to the Mayan, was important at this site. A drawing showed how the major stars in this constellation were used to position the 5 major stela at this site. The information boards in the museum were only in Spanish but our guide explained their content. Unlike most museums, few display cases were present. There was another building which showed the importance of jade to the Mayan and its use in trade as Quirigua was a major trading center. An informative National Geographic video provided most of the information on that aspect.

After a week of rain, the grass surrounding the stela (stone monoliths with carvings) was soaking wet and muddy in many places where visitors' feet had trampled in the soggy grass. Thus our guide preferred to stay on the "straight as an arrow" dry gravelly and bricked pathway which ran from one end to the other end of the park (1,066 feet). Along this path were benches to rest, probably useful on a sunny hot day. Unfortunately, the intricate carvings on the stela could not be seen in their detail if one didn't veer off this path, which I didn't. Therefore I missed seeing the carvings on the important stela which showed that 2012 was the end of a major cycle in the Mayan world. This very tall stela was located between two other tall stela which appear at the entrance to the site. These 3 stela were fenced off from human hands and a roof over each provided protection from the elements. Each of these stela took about 5 years to carve so they cover 15 years of history at this site. They were carved in situ in an upright position.

Close to the walkway where these 3 stela stood, there was an interesting lower rock monument with carvings that showed the creation of the Mayan world. It sat surrounded by a trench which the guide said would have been filled with water, an important component to the Mayan's world view. This rock monument was also fenced off to prevent human hands from touching it as well as roofed to prevent wind and rain erosion of the carvings. The carvings were in good condition - not covered in black algae- but one would have to know what the symbols stood for in order to interpret these pictorials.

In Mayan times this trading center was located close to the river which now a days can't be seen close by. The Mayans placed an important shorter stela here at the riverside. This stela had carvings of the king's face and his wives to impress visitors coming into the city. Another rock monument at the end of the pathway was carved with images of the corn god and was placed in front of a lower sacrificial rock or altar. The guide pointed out the image of a man being sacrificed on it.

The pathway ended at the acropolis, the administrative center of the city and the location of the royal residence. The wide stone stairs that led to the top of the acropolis were easy to climb, but, once at the top, it seemed that all that was visible were low rubble stone walls that surrounded another grassy plaza. Very small rooms could be seen partitioned in one area of these walls.

This site had no pyramidal temples, just the tallest stela, several monuments, a few altars, an acropolis, and the largest plaza, now grassed, in the Mayan world. Tall jungle vegetation surrounded the site (the banana plantation owners have not disturbed the site) while the center was open to the skies. Expect to walk about 1.5 miles here. I experienced no mosquitoes on my visit and did not need to apply insect repellent. I was comfortable in long light weight pants and a long sleeve blouse. I wore sneakers, but some rubbers would have been ideal to walk on the soggy grass after the week of rain at the park.

There was minimal information about the objects in the park. At the entrance, there was no brochure which showed the layout of the site. Inside the park, many of the information boards in front of the objects just identified them with a number. Visitors could use these ID numbers to read a description about the object on a website. I had printed out these web pages along with pictures of the stela and monuments, and referred to them on my visit. This website said that there were 17 stela to look at. Using the information from this website, I tried to identify the animals, the faces, the dots and lines, and other images in the carvings I saw, but, really, one needs a guide to point them out and to interpret them. After all, it is the story they tell that adds interest to the visit. Our guide used a laser to draw our attention to the objects carved in these monuments so we could see which objects he was referring to. One could also just look at the sculptured images and appreciate the artwork of these Mayans.

There were tourist stands at the entrance to the park which featured crafts from the people living in the Guatemalan highlands - woven bags, blankets, clothing, wood carvings.

The port of Santo Tomas is a busy center loading and unloading shipping containers. There was a warehouse at the port where locals sold Guatemalan souvenirs to cruisers. There was little else to do around the port - the village is inland- so splurge and take an excursion to the Mayan ruins. It will be memorable.
Written 6 February 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Prophet9fla
Miami, Fl101 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2015 • Couples
This site is fairly small, the fields are overrun with biting ants, so beware if you stand still in front of the many beautiful, impressive stelae there. The stelae, with hieroglyphics are an amazing part of Guatemalas heritage...it is maintained but fairly small and incredibly hot. There is no tree coverage or shade for anyone sensitive. Bug repellent, hats or umbrellas and water.....
Written 23 July 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

WFKtravels
323 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2015 • Family
The intricately carved zoomorphs and stelae at Quiriguá are easily accessed and fascinating. There is a well-paved path into the park which is small compared to many of the other Mayan sites. There are some shadey trees and several of the monoliths are under cover which provides some shade for you while you are looking at the glyphs. We got the impression that the area floods at times so would suggest wearing hiking shoes or similar if you want to leave the gravel path and move amongst the stelae. We also used our insect repellant liberally. The really interesting/famous/well-described stelae and zoomorphs are easy to access via flat paths. There is an acropolis at the far end that can also be explored if you are prepared to do some climbing. To get the most out of this site a book like 'Maya Ruins of Tikal, Copán & Quiriguá' by David & Jennifer Raezer, Approach Guides is absolutely invaluable....we had downloaded the guide to our phone Kindle and were able to use the excellent diagrams which pointed out the salient features of the various carvings and glyphs on the stelae and zoomorphs. This allowed us to move through the park at our own pace and, we felt, was much better than a couple of the guides on whom we eavesdropped. Toilets here are excellent too.
Written 25 February 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sensiblesal_1
San Francisco, CA115 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2013 • Family
For those who like traveling with a little adventure, try southeastern Guatemala. Four and a half hours by Litegua bus from Guatemala City will get you to QUIRIGUA [kiri-GWAH], a Mayan site often missed because Tikal is the main Mayan pull. It costs Q80 ($10) per person to get in, but it’s worth the fee. Start in the little museum near the entrance. It’s not a huge site, but the Great Plaza with all the super tall stelae covered in hieroglyphs, the magnificent zoomorphic rock carvings, and the acropolis area with its stone structures encompassing a ballcourt is a very worthwhile day trip. You can stay overnight in the small town of Quiriguá (as we did), find a place in Los Amates (a small town nearby), or have the bus let you out on the main road that leads to the site itself (Just tell the driver you want to get out at the site.) We hired a tuk-tuk [three-wheeled motor-vehicle] to take us down the long road past the United Fruit Company’s banana plantations to the actual archaeological site’s entrance.

Copan (Honduras) was a powerful Mayan city that ruled over a vast area (including Quiriguá). In AD April 738 the King of Quiriguá - K’ak Tiliw Chan Yopaat (who had been a vassal ruler), captured and decapitated the mighty and powerful King of Copan - “18 Rabbit”. We know this because on the stelae, the story is told in low-relief sculptures, 3D faces, and panels of glyph texts. You can see these and more at the Quiriguá site.

The signs are in both English and Spanish. The green-lawned area with all the stelae is like an outdoor museum, and it’s fun to climb the rock structures in the Acropolis area. Your imagination can run wild as you think about Quiriguá as the jade and cacao center of trade, and as a place of ballgames, Mayan rituals, and a ceremonial center.

Tell your tuk-tuk driver to return in two and a half or three hours or ask someone at the entrance to call for one to take you back to the main road.
Written 10 January 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AdventureLass
Lakeland, MN462 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2015 • Solo
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quirigua is not to be missed if you're in the area. It's an essential stop if you're a student of Mayan culture and civilization. Seventeen monuments exist and are thought to have been carved between 426 AD and 810 AD. The site covers approximately 3 square kms, or about 1.2 square miles. You can freely walk about the grounds to explore each area of stelae and you can also walk a shaded gravel/dirt pathway that leads to the Great Plaza. There are benches in the shade. It can be very hot, even in the morning hours. Bring an umbrella, hat, and wear sunscreen. Good for families of all ages. There are placards about the park explaining historical facts in both Spanish and English. There are washrooms and a small cantina on site.
Written 3 March 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

magic_carpets
Crossville, TN5,756 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2014 • Couples
We usually do independent tours. However in Guatemala, due to safety reasons, we booked the tour of the Archaeological Ruins of Quirigua, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, through the Holland American Ryndam ship. The tour was $89.95 per adult (which included the $10 per person entrance fee) and was scheduled for 4.5 hours. They noted that there would be no stops for food and to bring a snack. It was also noted that water would be provided, we were offered 1 bottle of non-chilled water. We left at 7:30 AM and did not get back until 1:10 PM.

It was a 1.5 hour ride each way on a fairly smooth main road to get to the archaeological site. The bus was an air-conditioned Mercedes-Benz with cushioned seats and a compact bathroom at the rear of the bus.

We arrived at the site and we toured the museum (none of the signs were in English) and then the Jade museum. Our guide Alfredo Juarez noted that we could stay with him or we could venture off by ourselves. He was very much into the fine details of each stalae, and after a few minutes, I decided to go off to take photos. I was able to climb the steps up to the Courtyard, which the rest of our tour group did not get to see. The ground was very muddy, as it had rained for the past several days. Fortunately it was not raining while we were there. Primitive & buggy bathroom facilities with a large roll of toilet paper outside at the entrance. So, be sure to get it before you enter a stall. There was a 15 minute stop to see the banana plants.

My problem was I found this 3rd world country to be very depressing. I saw many citizens with cell phone and the tour guide even mentioned that Facebook is very popular. Yet, the houses had no doors or windows and it appears that everyone just throws there garbage out the opened windows into the side yard.

I loved the Mayan ruins, but if I am ever on another cruise to Guatemala, I will choose to stay on the ship!
Written 30 December 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eddiemack
Pompano Beach, FL429 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2014 • Friends
We decided the trek to Tikal was too long and too costly so we opted to visit the ruins at Quirigual during our cruise stop at Santo Tomas. This site is too often overlooked.
After an hour or so drive from the ship, we arrived at the Park. Very well set up and maintained trails and exhibits were plentiful. The stele ruins were exceptional. Be sure to stroll to the end and climb the pyramid stairs. You will be rewarded with wide vistas and a better vision of what this place was like when inhabited.
Written 24 January 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dunsmurian
Elk Grove, CA283 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2012 • Friends
Quirigua is about ninety minutes from Rio Honda and double that from Copan, even though Copan is only about 35 miles by a crow's flight. It is one of the best collection of stellae in Guatemala, all from a single king who began as a subordinate city to Copan, then conquered Copan and executed its king Eighteen Rabbit, claimed he did so personally with an axe. As usual, only the king writes the histories and we are thus uncertain about their accuracy. The site is a small, elongated rectangular area with unexplored portions of the remainder of the good-sized city on both sides of the open area. The dozen stallae are in much better shape than usual, with exquisitely carved glyphs with wonderful art blended with text. The heat is much higher at Quirigua than in the highlands, as it is only at 1500'. The city served as a port for goods and people transporting from the Caribbean Sea to the heart of the Mayan highlands. This is well worth a visit simply for the stellae; unfortunately the buildings are not impressive.
Written 1 May 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kitancat
Louisville, KY63 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
The rating actually depends on what Mayan stuff you want to see. There are some ruins and a nice park with beautiful clearings and jungle, good bathrooms and shops. However, the showstopper is the monuments covered with sculpture and Mayan writing. If you want pyramids, go to Tikal, etc, but if you want to see the best examples of stone-carved writing, this is a great place to go. A good reference is "Reading the Maya Glyphs" by Coe and Stone.
Written 25 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK AND RUINS OF QUIRIGUA: All You MUST Know Before You Go (2024)

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