A National Park located 74 Km northeast from Flores on the road to Belize. The visit to Yaxhá takes half day.
Its name means “Green Water”, the color of Jade, precious and sacred water; and the city’s Maya name is on the hieroglyph emblem representing the head of a parrot. The phonetic pronunciation is read as Yax (green-blue) ha (water).
The urban group was occupied for 16 centuries (600BC – 900AD) and encompassed 500 structures, including temples, pyramids, palaces and platforms for public ceremonies and dances, as well as sanctuaries and foundations for residential units. Its full area is about 27,000 hectares and is compounded of around 500 structures, including stone structures, terraces, monumental building, boulevards and plazas.
The city’s periphery was inhabited by craftsmen and labourers in charge of farming, maintenance, and services. It was organized into plazas and groups of acropolises where administrative, civic, and religious activities took place. The most noteworthy structures are the Royal Palace, home to the ruler and his family; the North Acropolis; the Astronomy Complex; two ball courts; the East Acropolis; the Plaza of Shadows; and the Twin Pyramid Complex. All of these structures were conveniently integrated into a system of causeways and paved thoroughfares.
The Maya and the observation of the Sun:In order to develop their solar calendar, the Maya carefully observed the Sun’s daily passage from dawn to dusk, as well as its location in the heavens. Furthermore, they established a record of the Sun’s annual variations between solstice and equinox. The plaza locations of Yaxhá’s Major and Minor Astronomy Complexes (Plazas F and C) illustrate how the Maya applied architecture as a framework to establish the position of the Sun, especially during solstice and equinox. Adequate control of time was essential in the design of the agricultural and ceremonial calendar.
Art in Yaxhá: At Yaxhá, there were workshops where ceramic objects of varying form and style were produced over periods of time for ceremonial and domestic use. The Classic Period here is outstanding for its production of polychrome-design plates, glasses, and bowls representing mythical or historical scenes. Some special objects were designed as gifts for ambassadors to present during their visits to other cities. The hieroglyphic texts describe events and names of protagonists and places. There are vessels with glyphs referring to particular rituals with inscriptions of the craftsman who created them. Artistic production at Yaxhá and Topoxté required diverse fresh water materials, as well as snails, pearls, and shells from the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Some of these objects consisted of rings, pendants, necklace beads, hair combs, needles, and pyrite mirror pedestals. There are exceptional representations of mythical deities and animals that constituted elaborate mosaics and personal ornamentation for important people. Research at Yaxhá and Topoxté has uncovered jade artifacts imported from eastern Guatemala. The Maya valued and venerated this green stone. The nobility were buried with jade jewelery such as necklaces, bracelets with flat, circular beads, earrings, rings, breastplates, and tubular or plaque-shaped pendants. The most venerated rulers were honored with a jade mask covering their face. Ritualistic artifacts included awls and gravers, hatchets, knives, and figurines of deities and mythical animals. Artistic production at Yaxhá and Topoxté also included the use of human and animal bones, some of which were used for pendants, necklace beads, hair combs, and needles of different sizes. There are noteworthy engravings on human bones of hieroglyphs mentioning protagonists, dates, and historical events. There were also elaborate mosaics and personal decorative attire representing deities and animals.
Flora in Yahxá: The zone is classified as a subtropical humid forest (hot climate), a life-sheltering paradise. Yaxhá enjoys immense and rich biodiversity, thanks to ancient forests which have dominated the area for thousands of years. Furthermore, it is a biological corridor for thousands of transient species migrating from one continent to another. It provides temporary refuge to these species as they migrate, leaving behind them plant seeds that have been incorporated into the Yaxhá landscape. To date, the jungles of Yaxhá have been scantily explored by man, thus allowing free development of species such as mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and cedar (Cedrela mexicana) which are indicators of a mature forest. It is virtually impossible to determine the exact number of flora species in Yaxhá, since each investigation reveals new data on species yet to be identified among Yaxhá’s countless varieties, including medicinal plants.
The Fascinating Wildlife in Yaxhá:
The visitors are welcome by the endless jungle sounds. Forests and wetlands provide ideal conditions for a great variety of fauna, in surroundings full of life and color. Yaxhá’s immense diversity of habitat, combining lagoons, swamps, rivers, and flooded forests shelters a wide variety of fauna.
According to investigations dating from 1969, the endemic, resident and transient birds has reached 450 species. Among them are : Keel Billed Toucan (Ramphstos sulfuratus), Great Egret (Casmerodius Albus), Blue Winged Teal Coreto (Anas Discor), Pale Billed Woodpecker (Campehelius Guatemalensis), Yellow-green Vire (Vireo Flavovirids). Additionally, Yaxhá is the habitat for 22 species of fish, 14 amphibians, 3 turtles, crocodiles, alligators and 19 reptiles.