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Mayan Ruins

Joya de Ceren (119)At a glance: Visit the Mayan ruins of Joya de Ceren and San Andres. Enjoy panoramic volcanic views from the beautiful Cerro Verde area.

  • Full day trip

Joya de Cerén (Jewel of Cerén in the Spanish language) is an archaeological site in La Libertad region of El Salvador featuring a pre-Columbian Maya farming village preserved remarkably intact under layers of volcanic ash. It is often referred to as the “Pompeii of the Americas, in comparison to the famed Ancient Roman ruins.

The site was unwittingly discovered in 1976 by a bulldozer driver leveling ground for a government agricultural project. It was explored in depth by Payson Sheets, a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in 1978 and 1980, after which work at the site was interrupted by civil strife and warfare. Excavation resumed in 1988, and has been continuous since then. About 70 buildings have been uncovered, including storehouses, kitchens, living quarters, workshops, a religious structure, and a communal sauna.


San Andrés (formerly known as Campana San Andrés) is a pre-Colombian site in El Salvador, whose occupation began around the year 900 BC as an agricultural town in the valley of Zapotitán in the department of La Libertad. This early establishment was vacated by the year 250 because of the enormous eruption of the caldera of Lago Ilopango, and was occupied again in the 5th Century, along with many other sites in the valley of Zapotitán. Between 600 and 900 AD, San Andrés was the capital of a Maya polity with supremacy over the other establishments of Valle de Zapotitán.