From the El Mirador entry in Wikipedia:

El Mirador (which translates as "the lookout", "the viewpoint", or "the belvedere") is a large pre-Columbian Maya settlement, located in the north of the modern department of El Petén, Guatemala.

El Mirador flourished from about the 6th century BCE to the 1st century CE, reaching its height from the 3rd century BCE. Then it experienced a hiatus of construction and perhaps abandonment for generations, followed by re-occupation and further construction in the Late Classic era, and a final abandonment about the end of the 9th century. The civic center of the site covers some 10 km² (4 square miles) with several thousand structures, including monumental architecture from 10 - 72 m (30 - 236 ft) high.

There is a number of "triadic" structures (around 35 structures), consisting of large artificial platforms topped with a set of 3 summit pyramids. The most notable of such structures are three huge complexes; one is nicknamed "El Tigre", with a height of 55 m (180 ft); the other is called "La Danta" (or Danta) temple. The La Danta temple measures approximately 72 m (236 ft) tall from the forest floor, and considering its total volume (2,800,000 m³ (98.9 million cubic feet)) is one of the largest pyramids in the world. When the large man-made platform that the temple is built upon (some 180,000 m² (1,938,000 square feet)) is included in calculations, La Danta is considered by some archaeologists to be one of the most massive ancient structures in the world. Also the "Los Monos" complex is very large (48 m (157 ft) high) although not as well known. Most of the structures were originally faced with cut stone which was then decorated with large stucco masks depicting the deities of Maya mythology. According to Carlos Morales-Aguilar, a Guatemalan archaeologist from Pantheon-Sorbonne University, the city appears to have been planned from its foundation, as extraordinary alignments have been found between the architectural groups and main temples, which were possibly related to solar alignments. The study reflects an importance of urban planning and sacred spaces since the first settlers.

FARES, the Foundation for Anthropological Research & Environmental Studies, has a description of El Mirador.

There is currently no road going to El Mirador. To visit, you can either hike or ride. Short visits by helicopter are also possible. I was originally scheduled to hike. When I was picked up in Flores, I was told that I could ride as well. I decided to do that, and I am glad that I did. I would never have been able to make the hike. It is 16 km (10 miles) on the first day, from Carmelita to the La Tintal camp. On the second day it is 27 km (17 miles) from La Tintal to El Mirador. The trail was flooded and extremely muddy. I spent 5 hours on mule-back each day. On the first day, my guide was guiding my mule. On the second day my mule was number three in the mule train. When the number two mule started farting, I was reminded of a German childhood rhyme: "Und keiner wollte hinten gehn, denn hinten war the Luft nicht schön". This translates to "And nobody wanted to walk in the rear, because in the rear the air wasn't clear."

It was quite an adventure. I am glad that I did this trek, but I wouldn't do it again.

It was interesting to see the huge temples. However, only a few structures are excavated, mostly you just see tree-covered earth mounds. You can climb up on El Tigre and on La Danta, the largest structure. La Danta is the largest Maya structure in the world. Most of the structures apparently were covered with painted stucco sculptures. They used three colors, black, red, and creme. There are some of the stucco friezes with remnants of the original paint left.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Jungle Trek

Site Plan El Mirador
Site plan of El Mirador. This looked like you could see a lot of buildings, but that was misleading. (844k)
Guide Our Cook Whole
My guide and our cook. They were with me the whole five days. (1132k)
Mule
My mule. (1114k)
Trail First Day
The trail on the first day. (1120k)
Trail First Day
The trail on the first day. (1187k)
Mule Train Day Two
Mule train on day two. The cook was leading the mules, my guide walked and cleared brush off the trail when necessary. (1202k)
Kitchen Area El Mirador
Kitchen area in the El Mirador camp. (1075k)
Wood Stove Camp El
Wood stove at the camp in El Mirador. (780k)
Rainwater Collection Rain Water
Rainwater collection. The rain water is used for washing, etc. (1231k)
Water Flowing Roof Tarp
The water flowing from the roof tarp was running onto the berm that kept the water from running through the tent. He was trying to fix that so the tent area would stay dry. (1338k)
Rainbow El Tigre
Rainbow from El Tigre. (1076k)
Evening Rain Clouds
Evening rain clouds. (512k)
Sunset El Tigre
Sunset from El Tigre. (517k)
View La Danta El
View of La Danta from El Tigre. (1173k)

La Muerta Group

Southern Part La Muerta
Southern part of the La Muerta group. See La Muerta at Wikipedia. (1.8M)
Structure Southern Part La
Structure in the southern part of the La Muerta group with interior rooms. (1.8M)
Interior Structure
Interior of the structure. (1036k)
Tree Growing Structure Southern
Tree growing on a structure in the southern part of the La Muerta group. (1.9M)
Structure Southern Part La
Structure in the southern part of the La Muerta group. (1.8M)
Detail Typical Maya Construction
Detail of typical Maya construction with irregular stones in the inner part of the structure and smooth exterior faces. (1.8M)
Floor Decorations Northern Part
Floor decorations in the northern part of the La Muerta group. (1.5M)
Closer View Floor Decorations
Closer view of the floor decorations in the northern part of the La Muerta group. (1379k)
Closer View Floor Decorations
Closer view of the floor decorations in the northern part of the La Muerta group. (1468k)

El Mirador

Structures El Mirador Complex
Most structures in the El Mirador complex look like this, just mounds of dirt with trees growing on them. (1.7M)
City Wall Gate
City wall with gate. (1.9M)
Partially Excavated Structures
Partially excavated structures. (1.7M)
Partially Excavated Structures
Partially excavated structures. (1.6M)
Partially Excavated Structure
Partially excavated structure. (1.9M)
Partially Excavated Structure
Partially excavated structure. (1.8M)
Partially Excavated Structure
Partially excavated structure. (1.9M)
Excavated Structure
Excavated structure. (1.8M)
Large Structure
Large structure. (1.6M)
Mostly Excavated Large Structure
Mostly excavated, large structure. (1406k)
Stucco Sculpture Rain God
Stucco sculpture of the rain god Chaac, see the Wikipedia entry for Chaac. (1339k)
Stucco Friezes
Stucco friezes. (1144k)
Detail Stucco Frieze
Detail of the stucco frieze. (854k)
Detail Stucco Frieze
Detail of the stucco frieze. (767k)
Detail Stucco Frieze According
Detail of the stucco frieze. According to my guide, this is the symbol for the rain god Chaac. (848k)
Detail Stucco Frieze
Detail of the stucco frieze. (855k)
Detail Stucco Frieze
Detail of the stucco frieze. (851k)
Original Stucco Frieze Remnants
Original stucco frieze with remnants of the original paint. (864k)
Original Stucco Frieze Remnants
Original stucco frieze with remnants of the original paint. (991k)
Original Stucco Frieze Remnants
Original stucco frieze with remnants of the original paint. (880k)
Jaguar Paw Temple Dating
Jaguar Paw Temple, dating back to around 200 BCE. (1393k)
Room Top Main Structure
Room on top of the main structure of the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1185k)
West Structure Jaguar Paw
West structure on the Jaguar Paw Temple platform. (1.9M)
Detail Stucco Remnant West
Detail of stucco remnant on the west structure. (1399k)
Stucco Sculpture Jaguar Paw
Stucco sculpture on the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1243k)
Stucco Sculpture Jaguar Paw
Stucco sculpture on the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1226k)
Stucco Sculpture Jaguar Paw
Stucco sculpture on the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1136k)
Stucco Sculpture Jaguar Paw
Stucco sculpture on the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1039k)
Stucco Sculpture Jaguar Paw
Stucco sculpture on the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1061k)
Stucco Sculpture Jaguar Paw
Stucco sculpture on the Jaguar Paw Temple. (1116k)
Detail Stucco Sculpture Paint
Detail of stucco sculpture with paint remnants. (846k)
Sculpture
Sculpture. (1274k)
Sculpture
Sculpture. (1416k)
Altar Sacrifices
Altar for sacrifices. (1458k)
El Tigre Pyramid Second
El Tigre pyramid, the second largest in the El Mirador complex. (1.6M)
View El Tigre La
View of El Tigre from La Danta. (1358k)
Moat Around La Danta
Moat around La Danta. (1.9M)
Excavations La Danta
Excavations on La Danta. (1.8M)
Excavated Stairs La Danta
Excavated stairs on La Danta. (1.8M)
Excavated Stairs La Danta
Excavated stairs on La Danta. (1105k)
Stairs La Danta
Stairs on La Danta. (1.9M)
Excavations La Danta
Excavations on La Danta. (1124k)
Smaller Structure East Side
Smaller structure on the east side of the top platform of La Danta. (1.9M)
Smaller Structure West Side
Smaller structure on the west side of the top platform of La Danta. (1.9M)
Main La Danta Pyramid
The main La Danta pyramid, the largest Maya structure. It dates to the pre-classic Maya period around 300 BCE. It was built over a period of 110 years. (1.7M)

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Page last updated on Mon Dec 30 13:58:44 2019 (Mountain Standard Time)


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