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General View of Iximché, Guatemala
Map of the Guatemalan highlands in the Postclassic Period

Iximché is a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site in the western highlands of Guatemala. The site's name dervives from the Mayan name of the breadnut tree (Brosimum alicastrum)[1]. Iximché was the capital of the late Postclassic Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until its abandonment in 1524.



The city was founded on Razumiat mountain by Kikab the Great in A.D. 1470 after the Kaqchikel alliance with the K'iche' broke down. They abandoned their previous capital Chaviar, (Chichicastenango), because it was too close to Q'umarkaj, the K'iche' capital. Iximché was governed by two lords chosen from among the four prinipal lineages; the Tzotzil, the Xahil, the Tucuché and the Akajal. These lords were in charge of all administrative and religious affairs, including warfare.

In 1493, internal strife divided the city when open war erupted between the Tukuché clan and the Akajal clan. On 18 May 1493, the Tukuché clan was expelled from the city and annihilated in battle.

In 1510, Hunig and Lahuh Noh, the ruling lords of Iximché, received messengers from the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II warning of foreigners arriving in the Caribbean.[2]

In May 1511, Iximché attacked the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj.

On 1 January 1514 a fire destroyed the city.

In 1519-1520 a plague killed many of the inhabitants of the city. Many survivors fled into the countryside.

On 11 August 1521, Belehé Qat and Cahi Imox were chosen as lords of the city after the deaths of Hunig and Lahuh Noh, the previous kings.

Spanish Conquest

The site was largely preserved by the Spanish due to their alliance with the Kaqchikel against the K'iche'. The Spanish under Pedro de Alvarado arrived on 12 April 1524 and were well received by the lords Belehé Qat and Cahi Imox. After continuing through Atitlán, Escuintla and Cuscatlán, the Spanish under Alvarado returned to Iximché in July 1524 and founded their first capital[3]. This first Capital in Guatemala was 1 mile to the west in today's Tecpán Guatemala, Chimaltenango using the name that the Tlaxcaltec Indians that came with them, gave to the city, (Cuautimalan or place of the trees), as Santiago de Goatemalan and the generalized the name for the Central America Captaincy General.

Peace between the Conquistadors and the Kaqchikels did not last, the Kaqchikels abandoned Iximché on 5 September 1524 and the Spanish burned the city on 7 February 1526.

The Spaniards abandoned Tecpán in 1527, due to the continuous Kaqchikel attacks, and moved to the Almolonga Valley to the east, refounding their capital on the site of today's Ciudad Vieja, near Antigua Guatemala.

Modern history

Iximché was excavated by Swiss-Guatemalan archaeologist George (Jorge) Guillemin from 1960-1972.[4]

United States President Bush visited the site on March 12, 2007. Local Maya priests said that they would be conducting purifying rites after his visit to cleanse the area of "bad spirits" brought by the president, who they say persecutes their "migrant brothers" in the United States. "We reject this portrayal of our people as a tourist attraction," a spokesman, Morales Toj, said. (BBC News)

From March 26-30, 2007, Iximche was the site of the III Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala. The meeting's closing Declaration of Iximche committed delegates to a struggle for social justice and against "neoliberalism and other forms of oppression."

The site

View of Iximché

The site’s central core is bounded on three sides by ravine walls and separated from the main residential area by an artificial creek. The site center consists of four large and two small plazas, each of which contained at least two temples. Along with elite palaces, there are two ballcourts, the larger of which is 40 m long and has zoomorphic shaped markers. The plazas are named A, B, C and D, running from northwest (A) to southeast (D).[5]

Structure 7, at the southwest side of Plaza C, is a ballcourt of similar dimensions to Structure 8.

Structure 8 is located at the southwestern side of Plaza A. It is a 40m long ball-court (including end walls) - the actual playing area is 30m long. The end-zones are enclosed.

Structure 10 has an internal patio.

Structure 13, lying between Plazas A and B, also has an internal patio.

Structure 22 - Traces of pillars were found separating five doorways.

Structure 24 - 2 tennoned zoomorphic heads, possibly jaguar heads, were found near this structure but may have originally been ballgame markers in one of the ballcourts.

The site has a museum with several pieces found there, including sculptures, and ceramics. It is open daily.

See also


  1. ^ Recinos 1998, p.81.
  2. ^ Polo Sifontes 1986, p.70.
  3. ^ Recinos 1998, p.101.
  4. ^ Schele & Mathews 1999, p.299.
  5. ^ Guillemín 1965, pp.27-28.


Guillemín, Jorge F. (1965) (in Spanish). Iximché: Capital del Antiguo Reino Cakchiquel. Guatemala: Tipografía Nacional de Guatemala. 
Luján Muñoz, Jorge; Ernesto Chinchilla Aguilar, María Cristina Zilbermann de Luján, Alberto Herrarte, J. Daniel Contreras R (1994) (in Spanish). Historia general de Guatemala. Guatemala: Asociación de Amigos del País, Fundación para la Cultura y el Desarrollo. ISBN 84-88622-07-4. OCLC 39909559. 
Polo Sifontes, Francis (1986) (in Spanish). Los Cakchiqueles en la Conquista de Guatemala. Guatemala: CENALTEX. 
Nance, C. Roger (June 1998). "La cerámica y palacios de Iximché: examen preliminar de la colección Guillemín proveniente de la capital kaqchikel". Mesoamérica (Antigua Guatemala: El Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica (CIRMA) in conjunction with Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies, South Woodstock, VT) 35: pp.199–215. ISSN 0252-9963. OCLC 7141215.  (Spanish)
Schele, Linda; Peter Mathews (1999). The Code of Kings: The language of seven Maya temples and tombs. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-85209-6. OCLC 41423034. 
Recinos, Adrian (1998) (in Spanish). Memorial de Solalá, Anales de los Kaqchikeles; Título de los Señores de Totonicapán. Guatemala: Piedra Santa. ISBN 84-8377-006-7. OCLC 25476196. 

External links

Coordinates: 14°44′8.88″N 90°59′46.32″W / 14.7358°N 90.9962°W / 14.7358; -90.9962


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Iximché is in Guatemala.


Moderately sized Maya ruin. It is accessible from the highways in the Guatemalan west central highlands, an easy less than a day trip from Guatemala City or Antigua Guatemala. It lacks the impressive monuemental art and architecture of the more famous larger Maya sites, but remains popular due to its convenient location and pleasant setting.


This fortified Maya city was late in Maya history, still occupied when the Spanish Conquistadores came to conquer Guatemala in the 16th century.




Mild, like most of the central Highlands.


50 quetzals per person

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