I love exploring, it’s one of my passions. I love exploring areas of the world that are brimming with history and ruins, because really, this should bring back echoes of the past. Central America is full of such history, and as a result there are plenty of ruins to get out and see.
There are too many to list them all, and they’re spread out over several countries, so it would be impossible to see every single one, unless you have a lot of time on your hands, but here are five of the best sites to look into.
Honduras – Copan
Small and easily reached, these Mayan ruins are your typical Aztec and Mayan structures, in ruin form. If you read into what these ruins actually were and what they meant you’ll find they were once ruled by 16 kings, so that’s a long and colourful history to learn about. The area around it is also extremely green and brimming with wildlife.
Northern Guatemala – Tikal
Large, brimming with ruins, and UNESCO listed, more Mayan ruins await you at Tikal. You have to get through the jungle to reach the ruins, which is a treat in itself, and there’s a campground if you want a really rustic experience. This is a good example because it is actually one of the largest Mayan civilization ruin sites in Central America, so you’ll get a broader overview.
Guatemala – Yaxha
A former ancient Mayan city, at Yaxha you’ll find a huge amount of temples. This was a former ceremonial burial ground and city, and again the area surrounding it is rich in natural beauty. If you’ve ever seen a travel programme with the ruins of this part of the world, and monkeys running all around them, then this is what you’re likely to have been looking at!
El Salvador – Joya de Ceren
For something so old, Joya de Ceren is remarkably well reserved. A former farming community dating back to pre-Columbian Mayan times, the well-preserved nature of the area is down to a rather disastrous volcanic eruption. It’s often referred to as the Pompeii of the Americas for that reason, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit here gives you a remarkable insight into how life was back then.
Costa Rica – Las Mercedes
No, we’re not talking cars! Las Mercedes is often referred to as ‘complex’ and for that reason it’s worth visiting to figure out why! Situated between the Parismina and Dos Novillos Rivers, this used to be the political centre around 1500BC, and is made up of platforms, walls, terraces, and countless other buildings.
The Mayan and Aztec history of Central America means you’ll find countless other ruins, but for a starting point, check these five out.