Mexico is well known for white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and glitzy coastal resorts like Cancun and Acapulco. Those who are interested in ancient cultures and civilizations will be delighted to know that Mexico is home to more than 180 archaeological sites, so check out these five archaeological sites when you’re in Mexico this summer.
Pyramid of the Sun image by Joel Bedford, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located 50km north-east of Mexico city. Established around 100 BC, it is one of the most influential cities in terms of religion, culture and politics in the pre-Columbian era. The two giant structures, The [Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, are ceremonial pyramids.
There are also palaces and temples located in the north end of the city, including the Palace of Quetzalcoatl, the Butterfly Palace, the Palace of the Jaguars and the Temple of the feathered Conches.
The Palenque ruins date back to 100 BC. The city was known as Lakam Ha (“Big Water”) in ancient times. Although it’s much smaller than many Maya sites, its monumental stone temples are famed for their finest architecture and sophisticated sculpture.
The most famous pyramid is the 75-foot-high Temple of the Inscriptions, named for the hieroglyphics found inside.
Chichen Itza, one of the largest of the Mayan cities, is located in Yucatan Peninsula. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also named one of the New Seven wonders of the World. The Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo, is the most recognizable structure. Each side of the temple’s 4 sides has 91 steps and the top platform has one step, making a total of 365 steps, which represent the solar year.
The sacred site also contains a well, the astronomical Observatory the Temple of the Warriors and the Chacmool figure.
The picturesque Tulum ruins are the only archaeological site in the Riviera Maya overlooking the Caribbean sea. You can see the most iconic structure, the Castillo, perched on the edge of a cliff offering a stunning view of the clear turquoise blue water. Within the massive walls are 60 structures that once protected the ancient pre-Columbian Maya city from the sea.
As the beaches along this southern stretch of the Riviera Maya are still relatively undeveloped, they offer some peaceful places to rest and relax if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the resort cities in the north.
Coba is home to Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. If you’re brave enough to climb the 130-foot pyramid, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. Coba is a collection of sites connected to a central temple complex by a network of ancient ceremonial roads called sacbeob (“white road”).
Mexico has a lot more to offer than just sun, sea and sand and the region’s impressive archaeological gems will provide you with everything you need to make your summer vacation memorable.