Perched on top of a fortified hilltop, and surrounded by a deep moat, sits the pre-Colombian archaeological site of Iximche. Once the capital of the Kakchiquel Maya, classical traditions and local rituals created a unique blend of cultures, which thrived for over three centuries until their defeat at the hands of the notorious Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, founder of nearby Antigua. The ruins are made up of four central plazas, each containing between one and three temples, a number of surrounding palaces and several smaller platforms believed to have been used for ceremonial rites. You
can easily spend a few hours wandering the site. There is also a museum, where sculptures, ceramics and other pieces found during the excavation and restoration of the site are on display. If you're lucky you might experience a local shaman ritual taking place at one of the temples which include sacrifices and offerings to the gods. The absolute best way to see Iximche is from the air on a helicopter transfer from Antigua to Lake Atitlan or vice versa. Not cheap, but a great way to save some time and see this stunning country from the air.
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