Freedom8 Mesoamerica


The El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Mayan Flora and Fauna is located just north of San Ignacio, on the Belize-Guatemala border. The ruins lie 7 miles beyond the village of Bullet Tree Falls. To get there you need to cross the Mopan River bridge in Bullet Tree and take El Pilar Road. The abundance of natural water sources in this vicinity is possibly the origin of the name El Pilar ("pila" being Spanish for watering basin).
A number of buildings at El Pilar reach 50 to 70 feet in height, and the central plaza ruins consist of temples, palaces, and housing for the elite. Large water reservoirs and ball courts are located within the center of the complex.
In contrast to other nearby sites, El Pilar remains virtually the same way today as when it was discovered, as most structures are in the earliest stages of excavation, however ambitious archaeological research is well underway at this site.
One particularly interesting feature is a causeway that extends from the eastern part of the ruins across the country border into Guatemala. Thus far, 12 pyramids and 25 plazas have been found at El Pilar. This is three times the number found in nearby sites such as Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. The site was occupied between 500 BC and 1000 AD.