About Quirigua Archaeological Park

Quirigua Archaeological Park in Izabel, Guatemala is an historic site housing the remains of a Maya settlement.

Whilst thought to have been inhabited from 200 AD, most of the structures at Quirigua date back to the mid-sixth century AD and include numerous carved stone objects and structures, such as an acropolis and a pyramid temple, centred on three main plazas.

Quirigua was an initially relatively small city and certainly smaller than its counterpart Copan in what is now Honduras. However, in the eighth century the ruler of Quirigua, Cauac Sky (723–784 AD) was determined to be independent and achieved this when he captured the leader of Copan. Quirigua was thereby autonomous and the capital of its state and, with plentiful resources such as obsidian and jade, was a prosperous society.

One aspect for which Quirigua is famed is for its collection of stelae, each elaborately carved and one of which, at 36 feet high, is the tallest one of its kind in the world (although only two thirds of it protrudes above ground). Quirigua’s artwork also includes a series of pictures of human-animal hybrids known as “zoomorphs”.

The city was abandoned in around the tenth century, although the reason for this remains a mystery.

Quirigua Archaeological Park is smaller and arguably less flashy or tourist-appropriate than sites such as Copan or Tikal, but it is of great historical importance. In 1981, Quirigua achieved UNESCO World Heritage status.

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