Most people in this part of Guatemala are here to visit the famous Tikal (#954), but it would be tragic to pass by Flores without a stop. Where else in the world is there a highly developed colonial island town in the middle of a lake? Lago Petén Itzá is in El Petén Province in North Eastern Guatemala, and Flores is separated from the twin towns of Santa Elena and San Benito by a causeway. The village just north across the lake is San Miguel.
In Pre-Columbian times, Flores was the Maya city of Nojpetén. The Itza left the Yucatán region in the 13th century and built the city later known as Tayasal as their capital. They called it Noh Petén, literally "City Island". It was also called Tah Itzá, or Place of the Itzá. It was on this island that the last Maya held out as an independent Maya state against the Spanish conquerors despite Hernan Cortes visiting the island in 1541. It was not conquered until 1697, when they attacked via boats. Many Itzá people fled and hid in the jungle for years.