Xunantunich pronunciation: “Shoo-nan-too-nitch”. The name means “Stone Woman” or “Maiden of the Rock”. The Maiden of the Rock is actually a ghost of xunantunich, said to wonder about the Ancient ruins.
The history books explains; Xunantunich is a Classic Period ceremonial center located eight miles west of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. At the village of San Jose Succotz, we cross over the Mopan River using a hand-cranked ferry and following the track through the bush. After a ten minute ride uphill, we will reach the visitors center and site museum.
The main temple is structure A-6; appropriately named ‘El Castillo’, which reaches 40 meters (130 feet) above plaza level and 180 meters (600 feet) above sea level. Here you will have a Panoramic view of the surrounding rain-forest. Howler monkeys and Green iguanas of some of the animals you may encounter on your way to the top. El Castillo is the second tallest man-made building in Belize and is comprised of three layers in the structure. The core of Xunantunich occupies about one square mile. Consisting of a series of six plazas surrounded by more than 26 temples and palaces. Archaeologists state that the site at Xunantunich was abandoned sometime between 890 to 900 AD.
The site was discovered in 1881 by Alfred Maloney, later the site was known as Mount Maloney. In 1894 a British Doctor, Thomas Gann, visited the site. In 1905 Teobart Mahler, an explorer and photographer of the museum of Harvard University, visited the site and took extensive pictures of the site at Xunantunich. In 1924 Thomas Gann returned to the site and started excavation works.
Xunantunich opening hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The small hand-cranked ferry carries visitors across between 7:30 am and 4:00 pm.