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Mayan Tour: Joya de Cerén UNESCO Site +Tazumal Ceremonial Center
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Reviewed 9 April 2020

Not far from Santa Ana are the ruins of the Mayan city of Tazumal which are literally surrounded by the present day city of Chalchuapa, a Nahuatl word meaning 'river of jade'. Our bus drives down a narrow street with vendors on one side and open air restaurants on the other until it can go no further. How he is going to turn around I have no idea, but we get out and walk the short distance to the entrance.

Tazumal, like San Andres which we visited yesterday, had two distinct growth periods. One before the eruption of Ilopango and one after with a significant gap in between. The earliest settlement here dates as far back as 1000 B.C. and apparently had a definite Olmec influence, based upon a carving found on a boulder at the site. The period immediately preceding the Ilopango eruption was the city's heyday and there were structures much larger and over an area much greater than what you see today. Although construction resumed in the 5th century and what you see today dates from that time, the city never regained its former prominence. By 1200 Tazumal was abandoned.

The visit to Tazumal starts with a walk through a small museum where the most interesting item is this recreation of a Mayan cacique complete with jade and feather ornamentation.

Tazumal is essentially one large plaza dominated by a pyramid that is much larger than that at Santa Ana and although you can't climb it, there is a path to follow around its base. From the back it looks amazingly like a Babylonian ziggurat.

There is also a small ball court. One of the most fascinating things about pre-Columbian Mayan culture was the obsession with 'the ball game'. A Mayan wife would never say to her husband, "Honey, it's only a game.", because to the Mayans it was much, much more. The playing of the game was not a sport as we know it, but a ritual which could actually see the losers executed. Talk about 'sudden death overtime'! Every major Mayan city had at least one of these ball courts and they always had a viewing area which in the case of Tazumal would have been on the tiers of the pyramid beside the court.

If you've been to Chichen Itza, Copan or Tikal then Tazumal is not going to make much of an impression, but if you are in this area of El Salvador it's definitely worth a visit.

Date of experience: February 2020
2  Thank maritimeexplorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 5 February 2020 via mobile

Open 9.00 AM to 4.00 PM all days except Mondays. Tazumal is about one and half hour drive from San Salvador. This can be clubbed with the much sought after tour of the flowers route which is a full day tour from San Salvador. It’s a small but well maintained site and a very nice museum. Guides are available there. Entry tickets are 3.00 USD. Expect to spend about an hour. Plenty of artefacts and souvenirs available for purchase outside.

Date of experience: January 2020
1  Thank murali8121
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 14 December 2019

If you enjoy history and Mayan sites this is worth a visit. The ruins cover a rather small area within a town that has covered the rest of the original settlement. Suggest that you visit in conjunction with the nearby Casa Blanca ruins.

Date of experience: December 2019
2  Thank David B
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 29 November 2019 via mobile

This is an easy day trip on local transport. Catch a 218 bus heading west on 9th avenue?? Cost is 35 cents each way. Tell the driver where you want to go and he or the conductor will make sure you arrive at the right spot. A couple of blocks walk and you are there. Cost is three dollars, which seems to be standard for tourists in El Salvador. Only one pyramid to see, and it is small, but the museum has some interesting stuff, only in Spanish. The site is well maintained but there is not much to see, and the concrete put on the pyramid to preserve it makes it look, like my friend said, like a German bunker from some bad movie. They may tell you here the other site across town is included in the price, but it is not. Don’t waste your time or money. There is nothing to see at the other site except outlines of what was there. Totally not worth another three bucks. There are some souvenir shops and restaurants on the blocks leading to Tazumal. Good place to eat or look for some Jade.

Date of experience: November 2019
1  Thank Panamajoe2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 19 October 2019 via mobile

Great place of Mayan ruins. This was a historic site that held religious importance. The elite lived here. Burials, religious sacrifices, and anything that was considered sacred! Find a tour guide to get more information about the daily lives!

Date of experience: October 2019
1  Thank tganuza
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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