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Antiquities Of Guatemala

( Originally Published 1851 )

From the works of Don Juarros

Ancient city of Utatlan. This was the capital of the native kings of Quiche, and covered the extensive plain on which now stands the village of Santa Cruz del Quiche.

The centre of the city was occupied by the royal palace. The streets were very narrow, but the place was so populous as to enable the king to draw from it alone, no less than 72,000 combatants, to oppose the progress of the Spaniards. It contained many very sumptuous edifices. The most superb of them was a seminary where between 5000, and 6000 children were educated, who were all maintained and provided for, at the charge of the royal treasury. The castle of the Atalaya was a remarkable structure, which being raised four stories high, was capable of furnishing quarters to a very strong garrison. The castle of Resquardo was not inferior to the other. It extended 188 paces in front, 230 in depth, and was five stories high. The grand Alcazar, or palace of the kings of Quiche, surpassed every other edifice; and in the opinion of Torquemada, it would compete with that of Montezuma in Mexico, or that of the Incas at Cuzco. The front of this building extended from East to West, 376 geometrical paces, and in depth 728. It was constructed of hewn stone, of different colors: its form was elegant, and altogether most magnificent.

Great Circus. This stood in the Indian city of Copan, and in 1700 was still entire. It was a circular space surrounded by stone pyramids about six yards high, and very well constructed. At the basis of these pyramids, were figures both male and female, of very excellent sculpture, which then retained the colors they had been enamelled with; and what was not less remarkable, the whole of them were habited in the Castilian costume. In the middle of this area, elevated above a flight of steps, was the place of sacrifice. The same author relates, that at a short distance from the Circus, was a portal constructed of stone, on the columns of which were the figures of men, likewise represented in Spanish habits, with hose, ruffs round the neck, sword, cap, and short cloak. On entering the gateway, there are two fine stone pyramids, moderately large and lofty, from which is sus-vended a hammock that contains two human figures, one of each sex, clothed in the Indian style. Astonishment is forcibly excited on viewing this structure; because, large as it is, there is no appearance of the component parts being joined together; and although entirely of stone, and of such enormous weight, it may be put in motion by the hand.

Cave of Tibulca. Not far from this hammock is the Cave of Tibulca. This appears like a temple of great size, hollowed out of the base of a hill, and adorned with columns having bases, pedestals, capitals, and crowns; all accurately adjusted according to architectural principles. At the sides are numerous windows, faced with stone, exquisitely wrought. All these circumstances lead to a belief that there must have been some intercourse between the inhabitants of the old and new world, at very remote periods.

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