Mexico is a country full of mysteries, magic and stunning natural beauty. However, it’s also rich in culture, history and a glorious ancient past. The Mayan and Aztec civilizations maybe are the most famous, but they aren’t the only ones that left behind incredible ruins from their impressive cities. So, here there are the top ten archaeological Mexican sites are:
10. La Venta
The mother culture of all the other pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico is the Olmec one. La Venta is the largest archaeological site of this ancient civilization. Located in the Mexican state of Tabasco, it features a Great Pyramid and several Colossal Heads of over 9 ft tall.
9. Monte Alban
Located in the southern state of Oaxaca, it is one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica. It was the main socio-political center from the Zapotec culture and includes a ballgame court, as well as a pyramid complex. The beach towns of Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are not far away.
Tula is better known for being home to the famous Atlantes, four meter high basalt columns carved in the shape of Toltec warriors. It was the capital of the Toltec empire, after the fall of Teotihuacan and before the rise of Tenochtitlan. Located in Central Mexico, it is near to Mexico City and Puebla.
Located in the amazing state of Chiapas, Palenque is right in the heart of the Lacandona jungle. UNESCO designated as a World Heritage Center and it’s one of the best examples of Mayan architecture. The picturesque town of San Cristobal de las Casas is not far away.
Coba is a Mayan city from the Classical period and it means “water shaken by the wind” in Mayan. With over 40 meters high, it hosts the tallest pyramid in the whole Yucatan Peninsula. At its peak, Coba, used to be home to some 50,000 people. Located in Cancun and Riviera Maya nearby area.
5. Templo Mayor
Located in Mexico City’s historic center, the Templo Mayor (‘Great Temple’ in Spanish) was the main temple of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Built first around 1325, it was rebuilt six times and destroyed by the Spanish conquerors in 1521. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.
4. El Tajin
One of the most mysterious and stunning Mexican ruins, El Tajin was part of the Classic Veracruz culture and it remained unknown to Europeans until 1785 when an inspector discovered it by chance. Its architecture style is different from anything else in the Mesoamerican cultures. It hosts the famous “Cumbre Tajin Festival” every March.
One of the most famous archaeological sites due to its unparalleled photogenic appeal. Located right in the beach, Tulum used to be a Mayan fortress around the year 1,000 AD. The magnificence of the Caribbean Sea provides the perfect background to one of the most beautiful corners of Mexico. Located in Cancun and Riviera Maya nearby area.
The Aztecs believed that their gods created the universe in this ancient city. Located 50 km north of Mexico City, it was the largest in the pre-Columbian Americas with a population estimation that ranges somewhere between 125,000 and 200,000 inhabitants. It’s home to two of the most impressive pyramids in the world, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, as well as the famous Avenue of the Dead.
1. Chichen Itza
If you had to choose only one Mexican archaeological site to visit, this is the one. Recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza was a large Mayan city located in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula. Its main landmark is the Temple of Kukulkan, which is a 30-meter high pyramid. During the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, the pyramid casts a series of triangular shadows against the balustrade, evoking the feathered-serpent god of Kukulkan.