Yaxha is not as well known as the major sites but is in fact the third most extensive set of excavated ruins in the classic Maya area. It is also the only site whose name survives from that period. It was long under the influence of Tikal and is the only known site apart from Tikal to have a twin-pyramid complex around its main plaza. The small ballcourt is also reminiscent of Tikal. Excavations on the main plaza revealed three superimposed layers of staircases and a large stucco mask that had adorned the façade of one of the earlier pyramids. There are several stelae, some with the goggle-like mask of the rain god. Stelae and altars had been toppled and ritually broken, perhaps to prevent them from being desecrated when the city fell in the ninth century. A long causeway leads from the lake across the site and was used to drag stones on rollers from nearby quarries. Once disused, the quarries became reservoirs or waste pits. Near the entrance is a four-sided pyramid aligned to the four cardinal points and used as an astronomical observatory. We climbed Temple 216 for a wonderful view of nearby Laguna Yaxha and the tops of other pyramids which rose at a distance above the forest canopy.
BR /> It was at this site, located at the end of an eleven kilometre long bumpy dirt track, that an episode of the TV series Survivor was filmed, bringing much needed money and publicity to help with the excavation work and presentation of the site.