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Panel 3 at Cancuen represents king T'ah 'ak' Cha'an

Cancuén is an ancient Maya ruin situated in southern Petén close to the departmental border with Alta Verapaz, in the Northern Lowlands of Guatemala. It is known for having one of the largest palaces in the Mayan world.


Cancuén was a major trading center in the Classic Maya period.


Cancuén was initially settled in the pre-Classic era and reached its peak early in the 7th century (600-650 AD). The city was a major trading center, due to its location on the Passion River. The city specialized in jade, pyrite and obsidian. While excavating the site, archaeologists discovered a 35-pound chunk of jade that had been being worked to make jewelry and other objects.

Cancuen is particularly known for its 3-story palace, one of the largest in the Mayan world, covering an area of 23,000 square meters to accommodate its 200 rooms and 11 courtyards. The palace was built for king T'ah 'ak' Cha'an, its limestone walls are up to 2 meters thick. It was surrounded by residences and workshops of artisans. The city also had a large public marketplace and two ball courts. There is evidence of a massacre happening around 800 AD including the execution of the city's king. Cancuén was largely abandoned after that.



Get in[edit]

A minivan and a passenger pickup provide transport between Raxrujá and La Union, the village from which you can arrange the boat to the ruins themselves. As of February 2007, the boat cost 300 Quetzals (W). You need to arrange the boat from the tienda nearest to the entrance sign. Following the sign pointing to the embarcadero will just get you a nice view of the river and a longish hike back to the tienda.

Fees and permits[edit]

60Q each to get in.

Get around[edit]

The site has wooden walkways for seeing the palace and other parts, so mud is unlikely to be a problem there.







Head back to Raxrujá.


There is plenty of camping space available at the site.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

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