The Maya Lands
March 2009
The Grand Plaza
Temple I

I love Temple I, also called the Temple of the Jaguar.  It is my favorite temple in Tikal.  Officially you cannot walk up it; however, that is on my to-do list for the future.  Majestic, imposing, grand, incredible.  I love it.  I spent a lot of time in front of this temple and walking around it.

According to the LONELY PLANET GUIDE to GUATEMALA, 2nd Edition, January 2004, ISBN 1-74059-293-X, pages 261-262, the Mayans built this temple to bury and honor King Moon Double Comb (also called Ah Cacau or “Lord Chocolate”).  The temple is 44 meters (about 143 feet) tall.  The Mayans adorned the roofcomb with reliefs and bright paint.  Archaeologists suspect that the roofcomb may have symbolized the 13 Realms of the Mayan Heaven.  The structure at the top contains a corbeled arch covering 3 rooms.  The Mayans carved sapodilla-wood lintels over the doors to these rooms.

According to TIKAL: History, Art and Monuments, MonClem Ediciones, 1998, ISBN 968-6434-77-1, Pages 12-13, the Mayans built Temple I during the Late CLassic Period around 700 A.D.  Temple I has 9 stepped tiers and a single staircase.  The temple on top has 1 entrance and 3 long rooms, 1 after the other, with a central corridor joining them.  A seated lord is carved  into the roofcomb.  The Mayans buried ruler Hasaw Chaan K’awil in Tomb 116, 1 of the richest Mayan tombs that archaeologists have discovered so far, under this temple in 734 A.D.

Temple I, seen from the Grand Plaza, at Tikal
The right side of Temple I, with a Ball Court in the foreground and the North Acropolis in the left background, seen from the Central Acropolis, in the Grand Plaza at Tikal
Temple I, seen from the Central Acropolis in the Grand Plaza