SOURCE: Guatemala Tourism Board

September 14, 2015 11:12 ET

Morgan Freeman Shines Light on Guatemala's Mayan Wonders

Academy Award Winning Actor Recently Visited the Country and Explored Ancient sites Tikal and El Mirador

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA--(Marketwired - September 14, 2015) - Last month, Morgan Freeman, producer and renowned Academy Award winning actor, visited the pre-Columbian Mayan settlement of El Mirador, located in the northern region of Petén, Guatemala. While there, he encouraged the public to visit the destination to see its impressive ancient Mayan structures, among them El Mirador, that he referred to as "the first of the eight wonders of the world." The Guatemala Tourism Board (INGUAT) is honored by Freeman's public support of the destination, and his call to share Guatemala's treasures with the world.

"If you want an experience, don't go to Stonehenge, don't go to the great pyramids (Keops... Giza)... Come to Guatemala and see this," said Freeman in a video while taking a break at the archaeological site of El Mirador, a UNESCO World Heritage site located within the northern region of the Petén jungle. What Freeman refers to, which can be seen in the video, are the extraordinary engravings of Mayan twin heroes, Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, whose stories are told in the ancient, sacred book Popol Vuh. These frisos are among the many that can be seen at the site.

Guatemala is one of the only places in the world where travelers can meet descendants of the Mayan people and experience their traditions. Known as the heart of the Mayan world, the destination is home to the largest and most impressive representations of early Mayan civilization. El Mirador is one of these structures that is home to the great pyramid La Danta, the tallest in Mayan history that measures approximately 230 ft. tall. Abandoned nearly 2,000 years ago, this pyramid is heavier than the great pyramid at Giza with over 99 million cubic feet of rock and fill. Archaeologists calculate that as many as 15 million days of manual labor were spent on building La Danta.

"We are ecstatic to have a Hollywood icon like Morgan Freeman experience our beautiful country and encourage his millions of followers to experience the heart of the Mayan world for themselves," said Brenda Zaldana, Director of Marketing for the Guatemala Tourism Board.

Known for his performances in films like Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby and Batman Begins, the adventurous actor traveled with his daughter, Deena Adair, to Petén where they began their trek first to Tikal, and then to El Mirador. Like Freeman, Tikal -- Guatemala's most recognized Mayan site -- has also appeared on the big screen as a filming location for the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope, released in 1977.

Freeman's interest in science and nature is well known throughout several appearances narrating documentaries such as Island of Lemurs, March of the Penguins and Through the Wormhole.

"When I was in middle school I learned about Mayan culture but reading about something and then being able to actually visit it, see it and touch it, it's a totally different experience. It's almost life changing... because life is real," added Freeman.

To see Freeman's video message about Guatemala, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgyVyWM26i4.

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For those interested in experiencing visit www.visitguatemala.com/tikal.

About Guatemala

Nested in Central America is Guatemala, the heart of the Mayan world. A place where a modern capital city melds seamlessly with the country's colonial and indigenous past, Guatemala is the path less traveled offering enlightening experiences beyond what meets the eye. From ancient Mayan ruins that emerge from the lush rainforests and architecturally impressive colonial cities with colorful outdoor markets to countless adventures and natural wonders such as untouched forest reserves, volcanoes and pristine lakes, Guatemala presents Life Lessons worth living. It also is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the colonial city of Antigua, the Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua and the Tikal National Park.

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