La Milpa Mayan Ruins in Belize
Located in the north of the country in Belize’s Orange Walk District, La Milpa is is the third-largest Maya ruin site in Belize. Although excavations continue and much of the site is still being documented, visitors to La Milpa can tour more than 20 courtyards, two ball courts, and explore 85 structures, including four large temple pyramids.
Why You Have to Visit La Milpa Ruins On Your Vacation
Modern archeologists estimate that as many as 50,000 people once lived at La Milpa in an urban area measuring more than a kilometer square. First built during the Pre-Classic era around the year 400 BCE, La Milpa was a powerful city state with large-scale agricultural terracing and two large basins to cache water. For unknown reasons, the city of La Milpa was hastily abandoned around the year 850, leaving behind partially-completed monuments that were reclaimed by the jungle until archeologists rediscovered the site in 1938.
The city’s original Maya name is unknown. La Milpa was named for a Spanish term referring to slash and burn farming that was typical of many Maya settlements.
Where in Belize Is La Milpa Located?
La Milpa lies in the middle of the Rio Bravo Conservation area, an enormous 250,000 acre (1,101 square kilometer) site in northern Belize currently being operated by the non-profit domestic NGO Programme for Belize.
When Is the Best Time to Visit La Milpa Ruins in Belize
La Milpa is open every day throughout the year and there is currently no entrance fee.
Best Way to Get to La Milpa Ruins in Belize
La Milpa is approximately a one and a half-hour drive from Orange Walk Town just off the Chan Chich Road in northwest Belize near the borders with Mexico and Guatemala. The easiest way to find it is to follow directions to the La Milpa Jungle Lodge which is located just outside the Maya site.
Best Way to Experience La Milpa Ruins in Belize
Once at La Milpa, be sure to head to the main plaza which archeologists estimate is large enough to have held up to 17,000 people during important religious ceremonies. On the eastern side of the plaza are the four pyramid temples, including one that measures 79 feet high (24 meters). At least 12 large stelae located throughout the site have been discovered that tell the history of the rulers of La Milpa.