Magic in the Seven Temples of Tikal

Within the large architectural complex of Tikal -whose real name is Yax Mutul- there are places of singular beauty and unique aspects that not found anywhere else in the Maya universe. This is the case with the plaza of the seven temples, a place where the meaning of numbers and the importance of the sacred and the ancient are strongly conjugated.

It is located to the east of the Lost World (reminiscent of Teotihuacan), and south of the Great Central Plaza, with an area of ??almost 8,000 square meters. There it emphasizes the astronomical importance of the place.

The two great individuals who built this beautiful place were Jasaw Chan Kawiil (about AD 700) and his son Yik´in Chan Kawiil (about 740 AD), the latter building the seven pyramidal temples east of the square.

When you first see this place, you can get an idea of ??the preponderant importance that existed, to the north of the plaza there are 3 ball fields and to the south, which is from where it was acceded to the plaza, there existed a pyramid with three entrances. Which has been confused as a palace. In fact, under the investigation of the archaeologist Oswaldo Gómez, this place is where people entered for the sacred precinct that contained a propagandistic charge, with the effigies carved in the crests of Yik´in Chan Kawiil.

The significant aspect for this place is that to descend, there was a staircase of 9 steps, which represented the descent to the underworld to play ball at the end of the plaza, symbolically in its nine levels as did Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué in Xibalbá.

When one agreed to play ball, one could offer to the gods their tribute by climbing the thirteen steps that each one of the seven temples has (one next to the other), acceding in this way to the higher world, that was part of the Mayan cosmos vision with thirteen levels.

The central palace was constructed to the west to observe the sunrise (using the pyramids that marked the calendar). At the base of the palace appeared tombs where it is believed that they were used as rituals for the birth of the sun and moon according to the Popol Vuh. All this makes this place nothing short of magical.

Written& photos by: Erick Reyes Andrade

Translated by: Melissa Schroden

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