The most prevailing Mayan Ruins in El Salvador are El Tazumal, Joya de Ceren, Cihuatan, San Andres, and Casa Blanca. At these sites, you will get a glimpse into the Mayan world that lived and controlled the area until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.
The Mayan wore a captivating civilization that flourished in the area that included parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Salvadoran ruins might not be as impressive as the one in Belize or Guatemala; nevertheless, they are exceptional and are worth visiting.
El Tazumal, the best Mayan Ruins in El Salvador.
Tazumal is the best preserved pre-Columbian Mayan ruin in the country. It is the first archaeological park in El Salvador and is among the oldest in the Central American region.
Investigations into Tazumal’s history indicates that it was populated from the Classic period through to the Postclassic. Artifacts discovered at the site trackback to the 8th century AD, which is among the earliest artifacts from Mesoamerica.
The ruins were excavated and restored by archaeologist Stanly Boggs during many excavations during the 1940s and 1950s. Boggs’s restorations have been criticized for the use of cement; however, his work generated interest in Tazumal and avoided what would otherwise have been the progressive destruction of the ruins.
There have been many artifacts found at Tazumal, among the most important finds is the Virgin of Tazumal; which was found in 1892, by historian Santiago Barberena.
The Tazumal area is about six square miles, it includes structures such as pyramids, tombs, workshops, and a museum.
Tazumal is located about 55 kilometers from the capital city of San Salvador, and about 18 kilometers from the town of Santa Ana. Visit Tazumal, the most well preserved archeological site in El Salvador!
Joya de Ceren.
Joya de Ceren is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features a farming community that was preserved for centuries beneath layers of volcanic ash from the eruption of Loma Caldera volcano.
The pre-Columbian Maya farming village is also referred to as the Pompeii of the Americas, in comparison to the famed Ancient Roman ruins, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption.
Joya de Ceren has been particularly significant in the study of the everyday life of ancient Maya agricultural communities; it gives insight into the daily life of the rural Maya.
No human bodies have been found at this archeological site, so experts assume that the inhabitants managed to flee to another place before the village was buried by ash.
Visit Joya de Ceren and see firsthand the buildings that housed this Mayan rural community.
Cihuatan is one of the most spectacular and most important archaeological treasures in El Salvador. The site was officially inaugurated as an archeological park in November 2007, it has an estimated extension of about three square kilometers.
According to historians, the ancient city of Cihuatan began after the so-called Mayan collapse to become a regional capital between 900 and 1200 AD.
The main area of the site has urban characteristics and is divided into two sections; the eastern ceremonial center or Acropolis and the western ceremonial center.
At this site, you will find pyramids, two ball courts, temples, and a building that has been speculated served as a palace. Cihuatan has a large square that would have been the place for markets and festivals.
Cihuatan is located about 37 kilometers north of San Salvador, on the Troncal del Norte road that leads from San Salvador to La Palma. You will find the entrance of the park about four kilometers after passing the town of Aguilares.
Visit the city of Cihuatan, one of the most spectacular and most important archeological treasures in Central America.
San Andres archaeological site in El Salvador.
San Andres is a pre-Columbian site whose occupation began around the year 900 BC. It was an agricultural town in the valley of Zapotitán in the department of La Libertad.
One of the most important remains of pre-Hispanic civilization in the region is located about 32 kilometers from the capital city of San Salvador.
Investigations suggest that, due to the richness of the soil, this city’s inhabitants were farmers. These farmers lived in small huts, they harvested products, such as corn, beans, and pipián, among others.
Additionally, excavations at San Andres have revealed that this was a ceremonial, political and commercial center that created a stunning site.
Furthermore, archaeological findings at this site have revealed that this settlement had strong relations with the cities of Copan in Honduras, and Teotihuacan in Mexico.
You can get to San Andres by driving along the Pan-American Highway (CA-1) towards Los Chorros, and continue as if going to Santa Ana; the entrance to the site is located at around kilometer 35.
Visitors can tour the pyramids, the indigo processing plant, and the museum. Visit San Andres and explore this remarkable archeological site.
Casa Blanca is a pre-Columbian Maya archeological site located near the city of Chalchuapa in the department of Santa Ana. The site possesses several pyramids dating to the Late Preclassic period and the Classic period.
Casa Blanca has an area of about six hectares, which represents a small fragment of a much larger site, now mostly destroyed due to the growth of the city of Chalchuapa.
Casa Blanca is an archaeological Park and a Museum; the site has six structures, some of which are not fully excavated. In addition to the Mayan archeological wealth, Casa Blanca, in its museum, shows valuable historical objects of the Spanish occupation
It’s important to point out that the pyramids at Casa Blanca are very similar to that of Tazumal and San Andres; two popular Mayan sites that are a short distance away.
About Mayan Ruins or Archeological Sites in El Salvador.
As I previously mentioned; the Mayan Ruins in El Salvador are not as prevalent as the ones in other countries in the region; nevertheless, they are worth visiting.
A good thing about these archeological sites is that they are not that far apart; so in reality, you could see most of them in a day.
If you are not familiar with the roads in El Salvador; I highly recommend you visit these sites with a guide.
They will take the stress of driving away from you and will give you plenty of information about the sites.