More than any of the other highland Mayan sites such as K’umarcaaj  and Iximché , Zaculeu (8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, $3.50) somehow manages to evoke the feel of the city as it might have looked in its heyday, thanks to a 1950s restoration project covering the restored temples in graying white plaster. At the same time, the temples lack the bright coloring they most certainly would have had and similarly lack any of their decorative details.
The highest of its temple pyramids, Structure I, rises to about 12 meters. Another somewhat impressive structure is Structure 13, on the southeast corner of the main plaza. The site also has an interesting I-shaped ball court. There’s an on-site museum with some interesting displays on the siege of the city as well as burial pieces found beneath Structure I.
Dating to the Early Classic period (A.D. 400–700), Zaculeu was the principal Mam Ceremonial site and shows signs of having been occupied for more than 1,000 years until it was conquered by Gonzalo de Alvarado, brother of Guatemala’s other infamous conquistador, in October 1525.
Starvation eventually did the local population in, as Alvarado and his troops simply staked out the fortified city (surrounded by ravines) for two months, cutting off rescue attempts from neighboring Mam villages with the help of the Spanish cavalry and 2,000 Mexica and K’iche’ allies.
Snacks and refreshments are available from a couple of simple eateries across from the main entrance to the park.
To get here, you can hire a cab from the central plaza for about $6, which includes about an hour at the ruins. Otherwise, there are frequent, cheap local buses heading out this way from 2a Calle and 7a Avenida near Hotel San Luis de la Sierra.