Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoy the view as they climb the ancient Mayan palace

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge climbed an ancient Mayan jungle “heaven palace” on Monday, a man-made structure that resembles the Buckingham Palace of its time.

The pair clambered up the steep steps of the “Caana” at Caracol, a Mayan jungle archaeological site in the Chiquibul Forest.

The Duchess was heard to say ‘wow’ as she looked out halfway through the woods.

Caracol was once the center of life in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, close to the Guatemalan border, and is believed to have been occupied as early as 1200 BC.

At 43 meters (141 feet) – 540 meters above sea level – it is the tallest man-made structure in Belize.

Allan Moore, director of architecture in Belize, showed the Cambridges around the site, saying, “It’s like looking at the inside of Buckingham Palace.”

He added: “It was a huge community of 150,000 people. Three thousand years ago, this would have seemed like a modern place.”

The Cambridges shared a brief private moment enjoying the view - Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Cambridges shared a brief private moment enjoying the view – Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Duchess was casually dressed in a white T-shirt in khaki pants with white Superga sneakers and sunglasses.

The Duke also wore sunglasses and a matching khaki shirt and trousers.

The original settlement dates back to 400 BC and developed into a more prosperous city by 200 AD.

Once home to 100,000 people, it measures 75 square miles and is five times larger than even the nation’s largest modern habitation, Belize City.

The name is derived from the Spanish for snail shell because of the spiral access road leading to the site.

Moore showed the Duke and Duchess some ancient Mayan carvings, prompting the pair to point out lizards, fish nibbling on water lilies, and a feline shape, which he believes could be a jaguar, a native of the jungle that surrounds them.

The couple posed in front of the ancient Mayan site, a man-made structure that has been compared to the Buckingham Palace of the time - Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

The couple posed in front of the ancient Mayan site, a man-made structure that has been compared to the Buckingham Palace of the time – Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

He also led them to an area where the ancient Maya played ball games.

As they began the trek to the top, the couple paused to look inside the ruins and ask their guide questions.

They stopped half way to admire the view, posed for photos before turning to continue the climb.

But the duke got a giggle when he came face to face with another group of photographers standing behind them.

‘We have one’ [group] one side and the other the other. You’re in each other’s photos,” he laughed.

Mr. Moore told them, “People often like to run here.”

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Belize - Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Belize – Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Duke was shocked. “What are they racing?” he asked. “You must be very fit if you do this three times a week, Allan.”

Caracol was discovered by a Belizean lumberjack in 1937 when the country was then British Honduras.

Archaeologists have spent decades excavating it and discovering monuments, tombs and extensive terrace systems.

It is thought that the Caana was built in such a way that high priests and rulers could be closer to heaven.

When asked how Belize felt about the British monarchy, Moore said: ‘It’s just as relevant here as it is in the UK. It’s symbolic and we respect that. And some people like having a monarchy far, far away.

“As an archaeologist, I cherish what is rare. As a good Belizean I welcome the Prince and his wife. We are known as a hospitable people. They will enjoy this.”

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