The ruins of Chinkultic lie at the western edge of the Lakes of Montebello and not far from the town of Comitan near the Guatamalan border. It was one of the western-most cities of the Mayan empire and dates back to 600 AD. This site is not as well excavated as most of the Mayan ruins and many of the buildings are swathed in vegetation, lending the site a mysterious and earthy atmosphere.
As you enter the site you’ll notice a small stone bridge over a stream, after which the terrain begins to get steeper. You’ll travel up a semi-stone pathway in order to get to the Acropolis, the main area of this site. Looking down and to your left you will see a cenote, which is a water reservoir used by ancient civilizations and an important source of their water. This cenote is the only one known to be in Chiapas.
From the Acropolis you will also be able to see the vegetation-covered Plaza Hundida (sunken plaza). You will notice stone pathways, brilliant foliage and blue skies filled with soft clouds that complement the ruins perfectly. 4,720 feet above sea level, this site sits surrounded by a pain forest and lush valleys. There are tiered temples, platforms and ball courts on the lower reaches with stepped and tiered temple on the Acropolis above.
The views are nothing short of fabulous! From the Acropolis you’ll be able to see the Lakes of Montebello, over 50 bodies of beautiful water that lie half in Mexico and half in Guatemala. The turquoise waters surrounded by majestic mountains and lush forests are inviting and you may want to make the short trip to enjoy its beauty. You may want to plan to take a picnic or eat at one of the cafes and restaurants around the main lakes.
Unlike other Mayan sites, the Great Ballcourt is asymmetrical with the northern end much larger than the southern although no one is quite sure why. Chinkultic was a community that flourished from the 3-9th century and was occupied until it was finally abandoned in the 13th century.
You’ll see hieroglyphic inscriptions from 591-897 and a marker on the ballcourt indicate it was dedicated in May of 591AD. You’ll see carved stelae depicting the settlement’s rulers scattered among the step-pyramids and nearly 200 of the smaller buildings.
Chinkultic is not a commonly visited site so it’s worthwhile to go enjoy the atmosphere, carvings and pyramids. This is a great little day trip that can be combined with a visit to the Lakes of Montebello. One to two hours is all you will need to see everything at the ruins.
To get there, you can rent a car or take a tour bus from the nearby town of Comitan; there are many hotels and other amenities to take advantage of there, too, if you would like to stay a couple of days. Since Chinkultic is surrounded by jungle it is hot an humid so dress accordingly, bring plenty of water and don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen.
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