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Explore ancient Mayan civilization at Tikal

Domingo Leiva / Getty Images/Flickr RF

Bastions of Power: Tikal, an archeological gem once ruled by the Mayans, is located in northern Guatemala.

On Monday we posted a story about a new photo book on civilization’s most important sites. The list of 100 destinations includes Tikal, an ancient Mayan city in Guatemala (pictured above).

Looking at the beautiful, mysterious photo featured in the book got us wondering about Tikal. What adventures and lessons in ancient civilization await a visitor?

We did a little poking around and discovered that the pyramid-like structures are in Tikal National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that protects more than 222 square miles of tropical rainforest. It was here that Mayan civilization settled and flourished from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D.

Submitted by Jason Ladouceur / UGC

Gran Plaza, Tikal, Guatemala

The city was once home to 90,000 Mayan Indians, according to UNESCO. The ruins, which include temples, tombs and religious monuments, are made up of 3,000 buildings. One-time dwellings dot the surrounding countryside.

If exploring an ancient civilization sounds intriguing, but you yearn for even more adventure, there is always the preserve's jungle. The mantled howler monkey, dwarf anteater, kinkajou, puma and jaguar are among the 54 species that live there.

If this seals the deal, check out Guatemala's tourism website for more information on how to travel to Tikal.

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