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Destination Details

Huehuetenango, Guatemala

Zaculeu or Saqulew is a pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site in the highlands of western Guatemala, about 3.7 kilometres (2.3 mi) outside of the modern city of Huehuetenango. Occupation at the site dates to the Early Classic period (AD 250–600) of Mesoamerican history. Zaculeu was the capital of the Postclassic Mam kingdom, and was conquered by the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj. It displays a mixture of Mam and K'iche' style architecture.

In AD 1525 the city was attacked by Spanish conquistadors under Gonzalo de Alvarado y Contreras during a siege that lasted several months. Kayb'il B'alam, the city's last ruler, finally surrendered to the Spanish due to starvation.

The site contains a number of temple-pyramids with talud-tablero style architecture and double stairways. The pyramids and governmental palaces are grouped around a series of large public plazas. The site also holds a ballcourt for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame. The site was originally fortified with walls.

The site was restored by the United Fruit Company in the late 1940s. It is open to tourists and includes a small museum.

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