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Destination Details

Izabal, Guatemala

The archaeological site of Quiriguá is named after the nearby village of the same name, and is located a little over 200 km (120 mi) northeast of Guatemala City; it lies in the municipality of Los Amates in the department of Izabal and has an elevation of 75 m (246 ft) above mean sea level.

Positioned on the north bank of the lower reaches of the Motagua River, Quiriguá is situated at the point where the valley broadens into a flood plain, which has exposed the site to periodic flooding over the centuries. Although the river passed close to the site during the period of the city's occupation, it has since changed course and now flows 1 km (0.6 mi) south of the ceremonial centre. Quiriguá is 48 km (30 mi) north of Copán, and is located 15.7 km (9.8 mi) north-west of the international border with Honduras.

The local bedrock is a hard red sandstone, which the inhabitants used in the construction of monuments and architecture. This local sandstone is very strong and not prone to shearing or fracturing, allowing the sculptors at Quiriguá to erect the tallest freestanding stone monuments in the Americas. Quiriguá was built directly over the Motagua Fault and the city suffered damage in ancient times as a result of major earthquakes.

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