Xunantunich, Belize

Xunantunich means "stone woman" and refers to the ghostly apparitions that locals have reported for more than 100 years. This site is practically in Guatemala. You can walk to the border from here. The structure here is the second-tallest in all of Belize, behind only Caracol. 

There aren't many visitors so it's a great opportunity to watch excavators work preserving the site. It's a beautiful area and can be reached easily from San Ignacio. When I arrived, I was given a private tour by one of the excavators, who answered a simple question by showing me around, telling me stories, and pointing out what was original versus rebuilt.

Xunantunich is famous for its friezes. El Castillo.

El Castillo in the distance. Current excavations to the left.

Xunantunich, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize.

The area covered in moss is original construction, thousands of years old. The other areas have been rebuilt over the years.

Excavators doing their thing.

The huge complexes at the ruins were usually municipal buildings or for rituals. Think city hall or church. This area was more likely residential, or perhaps a steam bath, or both.

Xunantunich, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize.

Xunantunich, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize.

The only two cylinders ever found at Mayan ruins in Belize. 

El Castillo, Xunantunich. 

The view from atop El Castillo at Xunantunich.