Deep in the jungles of Belize, less than a mile from the Guatemala border, Xunantunich is an ancient Mayan ruin that has sat abandoned for the past millennium. One of the few, well preserved time capsules that the ancient Mayans left behind, Xunantunich has lied abandoned since around 1000 AD since an earthquake caused the original civilization to crumble. But the complex was rediscovered by explorers in the 1890s. It is thought that a devastating event, such as an earthquake, caused a sudden evacuation of the large Mayan city around 700 AD. This disaster caused extensive damage to the main pyramid of Xunantunich (El Castillo). Although the city was re-occupied some time after, it only remained active for another 300 years before it was abandoned completely. After abandonment, the site remained empty, eventually being hidden and consumed by the surrounding jungle until it was rediscovered by explorers in the early 1890s.
Since then, Xunantunich has served as an important archaeological site, under-the-radar tourist attraction, and hotbed of ghostly sightings. Before the abandonment of this large and populous city, Xunantunich was a thriving metropolis. The first construction at the site dates back to sometime in 200 AD, with growth continuing until its final days functioning as a city. The ancient city is said to be haunted by one female ghost: a black-haired lady with red, glowing eyes. She was first spotted by one of the earliest research teams in 1893 and has been seen near El Castillo (the tallest building in the complex) many times since then. No one knows exactly who the so-called “Stone Lady” is, but many speculate that she may have been a human sacrifice whose death ritual was performed on the top of the El Castillo pyramid.
The ghost story of Xunantunich came to life in 1893 after the first sighting was made. Early one morning a man who was part of research teams working on the site, saw what he described as a Mayan Maiden ascending the staircase of Xunantunich’s main pyramid. This vision caught him by surprise so he continued to watch as the woman walked further up the stairs. She wore a flowing white gown and had long, thick, dark hair which cascaded down her sleek back. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to look at the man with glowing red eyes that pierced through his soul. She then turned to continue her climb to the top of the pyramid where she disappeared in amongst its stone columns. The shocked man quickly assembled a team to search for this woman, yet no trace of her was ever found.
Since this sighting, countless more have claimed to also spot the ghostly maiden who haunts Xunantunich. She is always described in the same way and is always ascending El Castillo’s stair case. To this day, the sightings continue. Their frequency is what gives Xunantunich its name, translating to ‘The Stone Lady’ in Maya language. Some believe that this Maya Maiden may have formerly lived within the city many years ago. Others believe that she was a human sacrifice victim, trapped to re-live her last moments of ascending to the top of the pyramid where her death ritual would have been conducted. Then, there are a few who believe her to be some sort of ancient Godly spirit linked to the site and Mayan culture. Though many have speculated, no one truly knows the identity of The Stone Woman that haunts Xunantunich.