Cerro de Oro is a ceremonial center where a set of sculptures and monument alignments mark important periods of the Maya calendar system. Every monument has a purpose, and the whole sculpture complex is an introduction to Maya Astronomy and a memorial place for local culture.
At the summit of the Cerro de Oro there is a sculpture garden carved in stone. It looks like the remnants of an ancient megalithic observatory, but it is the work of contemporary Atitlan sculptors, the ancient knowledge, the technique, the gift is alive in the hands of the stone masters. The observatory symbolic of the revival of Maya culture in the new era of the Maya calendar.
Every sculpture has a purpose, it tells a story, it is a teaching aid to convey a lesson: the motion of the sun, moon and planets, Maya calendars, an introduction to Maya Astronomy, the geology of Atitlan caldera, lake Atitlan dynamics, history and local legends kept in oral tradition.
A Maya Astronomy theme park where visitors can learn about Maya culture, calendars, Maya Astronomy, mathematics, etc. With a cultural centre with space for conferences, workshops, restaurant, services and a gift shop with souvenirs of the Maya Astronomy experience, books, prints, textiles, etc.
Cerro de Oro, (Hill of Gold) is a parasitic lava dome of the main Tolimán volcano in lake Atitlan crater rising 300 m above the lake. (Already at 1562 m above sea level). The mountain permits a 360 view of the crater, and the horizon´s features may serve as astronomical markers to notice the motion of the sun, moon and planets.
The mountain conspicuous shape has motivated many legends trough history, and it is a ceremonial place used by the Maya occupying the region for over 2000 years at least.
The observatory at the summit of the Cerro de Oro is a set of sculptures that mark the motion of the sun and the moon in the sky.
The Solar Eye calendar sculpture trace the path of the sun in the sky during 8 important dates in the year: solstices, equinoxes, and days of zenith and nadir passage of the sun.
The project featured in 2015 Unesco International Year of Light Blog. 2015IYL
In the tropical region the passages of the sun trough the zenith (and nadir) are very important dates, in Guatemala they span a period of nearly 260 days, the length of the Tzolk´in sacred calendar.
Justification / Demand
There are several motivations for the development of this project: touristic, economic, cultural, ecologic, etc. In general it contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals, and answers to several needs in the national reality. Read the full Justification of this project: Justification
It is very important that the project develops with the advice of the local indigenous authorities and municipalities. And the altars and energy places in use by the population be preserved.
We aim to promote the Observatory as an educational activity for the schools in the region. And for general tourism.
Business model: The economic value of culture.
The project can be viewed as a theme park for Maya Astronomy. We use academic research in ancient Maya culture to load with stories and meanings: art works, crafts, textiles, astro-tourism, cultural tourism, etc. Adding value to products and activities, manifesting explicitly the economic value of culture, helping to diffuse and preserve it.
The iconography in the observatory will be used to produce textiles, souvenirs and art pieces that will carry the stories and share the knowledge in different forms.
Mayan textile is our model for cultural and economic sustainability.
Projected products or services:
(Spin offs, startups and long term goals)
- Astronomical observatory.
- Ceremonial place of Maya spirituality.
- Maya Astronomy souvenirs.
- Art gallery for stone works and textiles.
- Books, posters, printed material.
- Hikes, astro-tourism, cultural tourism.
- Conference space.
In 2013 the organizers of the School for Political Action, a project sponsored by Oxfam for the empowerment of Mayan woman in the political system in Guatemala, requested a course in Maya Astronomy. The spiritual guides accompanying the project suggested to design a course to learn from experience, in open spaces, coupled to the spiritual activity in the so called “sacred spaces”, a course that could be enjoyed by kids, elders, man and woman, together. A course intertwined with daily life.
After one year of dialogue and several proposals, the Solar Eye project was developed, the original idea was to have it in several places selected by the organizations participating in the school for political action, but only one was built in the Tzunen mountain in San Marcos Guatemala.
It was also recognized that Maya culture has survived without the support of the state, and even in spite of the various attempts to destroy it. The sustainability of a project can take very important lessons from this fact, and therefore the project was designed to couple with the traditional vectors of Maya culture: Maya spirituality, the oral tradition, languages and textiles.
The project featured in the 2015 International year of light blog 2015IYL, also in [100 Days of Learning] in the Dutch Design Week 2017 , and featured in the 2018 [Archeoastronomy and Astronomy and the city] organized by the IAU.
The lessons gathered trough this experience are the basis for our present project in Atitlan, where we have improved several important features:
- To have the support of local Maya political authorities.
- To couple it to economical activities of the region to promote community participation.
- The new Solar Eye model marks 8 important dates for the Mayan calendars.
- The Lunar sculptures have been added to the project.
- We have the land.