Tikal, at one time the largest Mayan city in the world, is now a world famous site of Mayan ruins. It is probably the most impressive of many Mayan sites in Central America because it is completely enveloped in jungle. The ancient Maya began constructing Tikal around 550 B.C., and for many centuries thereafter the city was an important religious, and political center. Today, the largest number of Mayan ruins in the world are to be found in Tikal. The ruins, extending over six square miles, include temples, pyramids, terraces, palaces, ceremonial platforms, plazas, steam baths, and other stone structures. It is estimated that only about 30% of the ruins have been excavated - the remaining 70% lie buried underground. Visitors can visit the Tikal site by taking a short flight(approx. 1 hour) from Guatemala City to the rain forest area where Tikal is located or an overnight ride(approx. 12 hours) in an air conditioned luxury pullman if one prefers traveling overland.