Guatemala and its Mayan skies, perfect for stargazing

Tikal and Tak'alik Ab'aj are must-see sites for astronomical tourism in Guatemala.

by Pamela Contreras

Guatemala City, by Yuliza Muñoz -AGN-. Guatemala is a country that offers unreal spaces for stargazing, with a millenary heritage of skies that witnessed significant Mayan events.

The country of eternal spring is undoubtedly one of the best destinations for astro-tourism. The clear skies and deep nights are perfect for connecting with the stars.

Impressive monuments, built with stone and adobe blocks and decorated with paintings and reliefs, are some of the places built by the Mayans to observe the sky and specifically to determine the movements of the planets. Today, these sites offer unforgettable experiences for astronomy fans, putting Guatemala in the eyes of the world.

The Guatemalan Institute of Tourism seeks to preserve this richness so more people can see the same constellations our ancestors saw. Recently, they presented the Strategic Plan for Sustainable Development of Astronomical Tourism 2024–2030, which aims to attract history, astrology, and archeology enthusiasts to visit these incredible attractions.

Ancient Stars

Tak’alik Ab’aj is one of the oldest Mayan settlements in Central America, currently listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization -UNESCO-.

This ancient site has a special connection to the night sky. It hosts structures built in alignment with astronomical events and phenomena. One impressive feature is a stone with a perfectly engraved mark that is over 2,000 years old. The toes facing 115 degrees East of North and perfectly aligned to the sunrise on the winter solstice are proof of the beauty of the night skies, the Maya, and their fascination with observing and studying them.

Tikal, one of the most important observatories of the Maya world, is in the jungle of the Petén.

The Mayas spent a lot of time looking at the stars, thanks to which they discovered the movements of some planets, the sun, and the moon. Likewise, the stars were fundamental elements in counting time.

Studies by the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Guatemala reveal that the structures of Tikal are aligned with the celestial bodies on dates that were considered important for the Maya.

The Mayas, one of the most advanced civilizations of all time, were curious to know what was around them. They were intrigued to learn about their environment and manufacture various products, among them an interesting variety for observing the stars and treasures in Guatemala.

Guatemalan authorities are aware of this richness and invite visitors to get to know the country and admire its culture, which appeals to all five senses.

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