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Altun Ha,
Belize.

Travel & Tour
Pictures, Photos,
Information, Images, & Reviews.

George & Eve DeLange

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The Temple Of Masonry Altars. Looking East.  At Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
The Largest Structure At Altun Ha.
The Temple Of Masonry Altars. Looking East.

We begin our journey to Altun Ha, Belize by first driving along the Old Northern Highway, we will pass a few small hamlets with their inhabitants eager to smile and wave. The traffic is very light, so we easily take in the surrounding scenery, and stop to spot an occasional deer springing into the bush or even a gibnut or some other furry creature scavenging for food. Our only problem is that the road is more potholes than road, so we hang on tight.

Flourishing during the Classic Period of Maya civilization, Altun Ha is located 30 miles north of Belize City and about six miles from the Caribbean Sea.

The true ancient name is unknown and "Altun Ha" is a Mayan translation of the nearby village named "Rockstone Pond."

Altun Ha is small compared to other ruins in the region, the extent to which the site has been cleared and restored makes it easy to imagine its past as a major ceremonial center.

Plaza A is a large grassy area, surrounded on all sides by pyramids and is adjoined by Plaza B which contains the largest structure on the site, the Temple of the Masonry Altars, which rises 54 ft. above the plaza.

A hike to the top of the Temple of the Masonry Altars is rewarded with a magnificent panorama of the site and over the treetops of the jungle. This temple went through eight phases of construction and the round altar at the top is unique to this site. It was the focus of an unusual sacrificial ceremony in which copal (incense) and beautiful jade carvings were offered into a blazing fire. The archaeological site covers about one square mile of area, with at least 500 visible structures and likely had 3000 inhabitants, with a peak population of 8000-10,000 included in the surrounding areas. Evidence dates the earliest settlement here to 200 BC, with varied construction phases ending about 900 AD. Occupation of this site continued for approximately 100 years with a re-occupation occurring the 13th and 14th centuries.

The most spectacular find here was a six-inch high (15cm), ten pound, jadeite carving of the head of Kinich Ahau, the Sun God, which was found in the tomb of an elderly male priest. It is the largest jade figure found in the Mayan Civilization. This head was found by Dr. David Pendergast and it is now on display at the museum in Belize City. Printed copies of the head can be found on the money of Belize. Because three of the seven priestly tombs in the Temple of the Masonry Altars were plundered, having their contents destroyed and the crypts filled with soil, researchers believe that the final demise of Altun Ha was perhaps brought about by violent peasant revolt.

There is also a trail running due south from Plaza B which leads you to the main reservoir and onward through Zone E, a residential area, and several small mounds are visible along here. Many burials were recovered in this area, providing vast information about the inhabitants. At the edge of the reservoir is the site of the first temple built at Altun Ha, dating to the Pre-classic Period (100 AD).

While daily trips to Altun Ha, are standard 1/2 day outing trips by most tour operators; It is also easy to find on your own if you've rented a vehicle and there's news of a small restaurant having opened nearby called Maya Wells. The highlight of our early morning visit was the profusion of birds-namely, more than a dozen Montezuma Oropendolas flying back and forth over the plaza, and a huge flock of Blue Buntings hiding in a fruit tree.

Entering the site you approach Plaza A, which is enclosed by large temples on all four sides. Here a magnificent tomb was discovered beneath The Temple of the Green Tomb. Dating from 550 AD, this find yielded a total of thee hundred pieces, including jade, jewelry, stingray spines, skin flints and the remains of a Maya Book.

The Adjacent Plaza B is dominated by the sites largest temple, The Temple of Masonry Altar, which rises 60 feet above the plaza and was the last in a sequence of buildings raised on this spot. This temple was probably the main focus of religious ceremonies, with a single stairway running up the front to an altar at the top.

Several priestly tombs have been uncovered within the main structure, however most of them had already been desecrated, possibly during political turmoil that preceded the abandonment of the site.

Just outside these two main plazas, a short nature trail leads to Clay-lined Rockstone Pond, which was damned and used as a reservoir in Maya times,

Altun Ha was an important trading and religious ceremonial center. Evolution of the temples at Altun Ha continued until about 1,000 AD.

Even though Altun Ha is small as compared to other ruins in the region, the extent to which the site has been cleared and restored makes it easy to imagine its past glory and wealth as a major ceremonial center.

Plaza A is a large grassy area, surrounded on all sides by pyramids and is adjoined by Plaza B which contains the largest structure on the site, the Temple of the Masonry Altars, which rises 54 ft. above the plaza.

A trek to the top of this pyramid is rewarded with a magnificent panorama of the site and over the treetops of the jungle. This temple went through eight phases of construction and the round altar at the top is unique to this site. It was the focus of an unusual sacrificial ceremony in which copal (incense) and beautiful jade carvings were offered into a blazing fire.

It is possible to fly into Belize City and then to go directly to a hotel of your choice and then to take a tour of Altun Ha.

The Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (IATA: BZE, ICAO: MZBZ) is the airport that serves Belize's largest city, Belize City. The airport will be going through major expansions to handle more planes and for the airport to bring in flights from Europe. The expansions are planned to be completed in 2015.

Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport is about a 30 minutes drive from Belize City's center, in Ladyville.

The best way to get to and from the city center is via taxi. Although an airport bus service exists, it is very infrequent and unreliable.

If you fly in to Belize City at the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, you can be transported to wherever you need to go.

You can also arrange air transfer reservations or pre paid tickets from the mainland of Belize to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and then return back to the mainland of Belize.

Tropic Air and Maya Island Air fly to San Pedro, and Ambergris Caye.

Note: Altun Ha is not the easiest place to reach if you're traveling without a guide. We strongly suggest a guide to get you there and to tour the site.

We have links to Priceline.Com on this page so you can arrange you flight and hotels. After confirming your hotel, I suggest contacting their Concierge Services ahead of your arrival, to arrange any tours of the area, all of this can be pre-arranged for you.

We do this all the time, when traveling in Belize. It is safe and it works!!! We have never experienced a problem doing it this way!

no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!

George & Audrey DeLange At Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
George & Audrey DeLange At Altun Ha, Belize.

Old Northern Highway. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Old Northern Highway. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Old Northern Highway.
The Road To Altun Ha.
Old Northern Highway.
Houses Along The Road.
Plaza A. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Plaza A. & Temple Of Green Tomb. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Plaza A.
Photo Taken From Courtyard.
Of Plaza B.
Showing Part Of Plaza B.
Plaza A.
And Temple Of Green Tomb.
Photo Taken From Top Of
Temple of Masonry Altars.
Plaza A. & Temple Of Green Tomb. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Plaza A. & Temple Of Green Tomb. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Plaza A.
& Temple Of Green Tomb.
Photo Taken From Top Of
Temple of Masonry Altars.
Plaza A.
& Temple Of Green Tomb.
Photo Taken From Top Of
Temple of Masonry Altars.
Temple A5. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple Of Green Tomb. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Looking South
At Temple A5.
As Entering Plaza A
From East.
Looking West.
At Temple Of Green Tomb.
Structure A2
On Left Side.
Temple A3. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple A5. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Looking South
At Temple A3.
Structure A4 At Left.
Looking SW At Temple A5.
Temple A5. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple A6. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Looking East.
At Temple A5.
Looking North.
At Temple A6.
Structure B2. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Lizard. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Structure B2.
On West Side
Plaza B.
Looking North.
A Local Resident!
Structure B3. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Structure B3. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Structure B3 On Right.
Looking East Toward
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Structure B3,
Workmen Restoring It.
Looking East.
Structure B. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Structure B1. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Plaza B,
Seen From Top Of
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Looking West.
Temple B1,
Looking West.
Temple B6, B5, B3. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Structure B6. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
SW View Of
Temple B6, B5, B3.
Seen From Top Of
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Looking West.
Temple B6,
Looking South.
Structure B5. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Structure B3. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Temple B5,
Looking South.
Temple B3,
Looking South.
Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
The Largest Structure
At Altun Ha.
The Temple Of
Masonry Altars.
Looking East.
The Temple
Of Masonry Altars.
54 Feet High.
Eric, Restoring Temple. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Circular Fire Alta. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
Eric,
Who Is Restoring Temple
Of The Masonry Altars.
Carried Huge Stone
Up These Steps!
Workmen Restoring Temple
Of The Masonry Altars.
With Circular Fire Altar.
Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
SW Corner,
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Looking To The North.
NW Corner,
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Looking To The South.
Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
NW Corner Of
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Center Steps
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.Temple Of Masonry Altars. Altun Ha, Belize. Central America. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images, & Reviews.
SW Corner
Temple Of Masonry Altars.
Close Up,
NW Corner.
Temple Of Masonry Altars.

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