Ancient Mayan Temples

The Mayan cities, full of magnificent stone temples and pyramids, were primarily ceremonial centers. Most of the Maya lived in rural areas and were farmers who looked to the priests of the cities for direction on the best days to plant, harvest, and marry. Their temples, pyramids and palaces were painted in the sacred colors of the Mayan: red, blue, yellow and green.

Ancient Mayan Temples

Human sacrifice did occur at temples, but only rarely, unlike the Aztec, who sacrificed daily in the belief the sun would not rise otherwise.


The Mayan Palenque ruins site at Palenque, Mexico is incredibly beautiful and home to the burial temple for the great Mayan ruler Pacal. It is located in Mexico's Chiapa.


Kabah is located 18 km from Uxmal, it was at its peak from 800 to 900 AD. The ruins feature elaborate carvings of the rain god Chac and fine examples of the Maya vault.


Copan is located in western Honduras and is a relatively small Mayan city well-known for its remarkable series of portrait stelae. The stelae and sculptured decorations of the buildings of Copán are some of the very finest surviving art of ancient Mesoamerica.

Some of the stone structures at Copán date back to the 9th century BC. The city grew into one of the most important Maya sites by the 5th century with more than 20,000 inhabitants but was mysteriously abandoned a few centuries later. The highest point in Copan is the ancient Mayan temple now known as Temple 16, rising 30 meters (100 ft) above the city's Great Plaza.


Tulum is spectacularly located on a cliff overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Tulum is a late-Maya site that was active from around 1200 AD until the arrival of the Spanish.

Ancient Mayan Chultuns

In Cayo district, many landowners can point to ruins of ancient household groups, underground storage caches - called "chultuns" - and small temples.

Ancient Mayan Temples

Each temple might have served a different god, such as the rain god Chak, or the sun god or maize god. The building of each temple might also serve as a record of ancient power struggles.

Performers and priests may have stood atop these temples or in specialized projection rooms, which still exist, to broadcast songs and chants throughout the squares. The Maya are known to have to held public rites to commemorate enthronements, births of nobles, and war victories as well as to honor deities.

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