Located in Campeche, Mexico, Calakmul is only 22 miles from the Guatemala border. Vast jungle surrounds the ruins and is home to over 230 species of birds. Sit in the plaza of the site and you can hear the monkeys in the trees. Remote and beautiful, the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve undoubtedly deserved it's 2002 World Heritage Award for it's cultural and environmental importance.
Due to Calakmul’s location in the geographic center of the Maya region (the “Petén”) it received cultural influences from both north and south. Calakmul, along with the Maya cities of El Mirador, Nakbé, and Uaxactún, formed a coalition during the Formative period. This coalition was in constant conflict with its southern neighbors, especially Tikal. Calakmul remained a rival to Tikal until its decline. During its heyday, Calkmul was a powerhouse, with over 50,000 inhabitants, 6700 structures and various sacbes for commerce.
Calakmul is an uninterrupted architectural sequence which extends across fourteen centuries (550 B.C. – 900 A.D.). Its outstanding architecture includes figures sculpted in stone and modeled in stucco. Other noteworthy features of the site are a great quantity of stelae and dated monuments, upon which the history of Calakmul’s rulers is recorded. Toward the end of the Middle Pre-classic period (700 – 300 B.C.), in the Maya region, important public urban works were undertaken. During this period the largest structures of Calakmul’s history were constructed. This was also when the site’s first public architecture appeared, marking an effort to define administrative activities. During the 5th century in Calakmul, extensive remodeling was initiated, although this activity did not include a modification of the city’s urban plan, which was established in the Pre-classic period. Among these works is the noteworthy remodeling of the great foundation of Structure II. The rulers who inherited the throne of Calakmul initiated public, as well as private, urban works, such as palatial complexes, in various sectors of the city. They built structures to be used in artistic production and specialized craftsmanship. It was here where members of the royal lineage ordered the making of ceramics and other objects used in rituals. It is likely that toward the end of the Late Classic period (600-800 A.D.), a series of reforms and public works were initiated, changing the city’s image. Calakmul experienced its greatest prosperity occurred during the Late Classic period, a period when the majority of monuments, known as smooth stelae (or estelas lisas) were erected in the Great Plaza. Construction at the time, however, was restricted to minor remodeling. This era’s high yield with regard to ceramic production, along with that of the Early Classic period, indicate that both periods represent times of greatest human population at the site.
This ruin site is impressive and can give you days of Mayan history. Similar to Coba, this Mayan city was an influencing site, known as the powerhouse in the Mayan lowlands. Our quick overview is just that, an overview of this archeological site that houses a biosphere, 5 large waterways and lagoons, and various murals, stelae, pyramids and more. Take your time here and investigate more than just the ruins of Calakmul.