I visited the best archaeological sites in Mexico
If there is one thing I consider orgasmic for ages, it is the history of Mexico. I have been fascinated by the archaeological sites in Mexico and the Aztecs, Maya, Olmecs, Tolteca, Mixteca and all the other native Indians living in the Mesoamerica since I started studying Spanish which was some 14 years ago (OMG, time flies by!)
I even wrote my final University thesis about the Aztecs, their religion, sacrifices, pyramids and Gods. I loved it and wrote almost 100 pages in around 3 weeks.
To visit Mexico was one of my biggest dreams. Not just because of white sandy beaches and light blue sea, tasty food or lovely people who are happy even when they do not own anything. I couldn’t wait more to walk through the Mexican ruins which fill me up with the joy and eternal happiness.
Three months of traveling from one place to another were not enough to visit all the ruins in Mexico. But I did visit quite a few.
In my opinion the best archaeological sites in Mexico are:
Then, in the state of Jalisco, I continued with quite newly discovered Guachimontones archeological site probably built by the Teuchitlán tribe. Guachimontones is one of the only two round pyramids in Mexico, together with Cuicuilco close to Mexico City which I didn’t get the chance to visit.
When I crossed some more states along the Pacific coast, I got to Oaxaca state and visited two very different ruins: a hill covered with big Monte Albán site of Zapotec origin and some km away smaller Mitla of both Zapotec and Mixtec origin.
In the deep Lacandon jungle of Chiapas (when it comes to the natural wonders, the nicest out of 32 states of Mexico) my breath was taken away by three Mayan settlements Palenque, Bonampak and even deeper in the woods next to the Guatemala bourder Yaxchilan. Each one of them is totally different from the other, with huge Palenque, colourful Bonampak to very mysterious Yaxchilan full of hauling monkeys.
I could not miss probably the most famous Maya ruins of Mexico – Chichén Itzá in the state of Yucatan and then as well I visited Uxmal – both during the day and the night light show. During my visit in October 2014 I also had a chance to explore Ek Balam.
On the way back to Mexico City, I spent a couple of days in Puebla, where I didn’t love just its colourful streets but 10 minutes away I fell in love with another archeological site Cholula with the biggest Mexican pyramid in its days and the largest pyramid in the world.
But not all the ruins are set somewhere in the jungle. In the pure city centre of Mexico City, just a few metres from the Cathedral, there’s situated Templo Mayor which was the main temple of the Aztecs in their Tenochtitlan capital.
The last archaeological site I visited in Mexico was the biggest one and one of the two most famous ones – Teotihuacán. Sitting up on top of the Pyramid of the Sun with great company and observing the huge Alley of the Death remade by the Aztecs was something I will remember for ever.
Beside the best archaeological sites in Mexico, I also visited three archaeological museums full of great pieces: Cultural Centre of Santo Domingo in Oaxaca town, La Venta Museum of the Olmecs in Villahermosa and the biggest and most famous – the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
There is a huge number of the archaeological sites in Mexico, around 38,000. 1864 sites are supposed to be somewhere just in the Yucatan peninsula, so imagine in the whole country. The number of the found ruins is growing every day. Unfortunately, for now we have to satisfy our archaeological needs with a very small percentage of discovered ruins which are open to public.
During my second visit to Mexico in May 2013, I went again to Teotihuacan to regain magical energy. On the way there we stopped for a while at Tlatelolco at the Square of the Three Cultures in Mexico City. It was my third visit to Mexico City and even after studying so much about Mexico at the University, it was the first time I even heard of these ruins! The took my breath away as it is one of the best places to see how the Spaniards tried to convert the native inhabitants into Catholicism and built churches on top of the their pyramids and temples.
Each archaeological site of Mexico is absolutely different from all the others. However, there are some tips for all of them:
- it is always really hot at all the ruins so take just very light clothes
- wear a hat or a cap or anything to cover up your head
- take a bottle of water with you, you will definitely need it when climbing the pyramids and most of the time you cannot buy anything in the area of the ruins
- go to the toilet before you enter the archaeological site as I’ve never seen any bathrooms in the ruins
- you have to pay 45 Mexican pesos (3 Euro) if you enter with a video camera, but not with a digital photo camera but many times it’s possible to hide it (not that I’m saying you should do it 😀 )
- it is much better to visit with a tour guide who will explain you the history of the ruins. If you do not go with a travel agency so have no guide with you, there are many at the entrance to the ruins. But speak about the price. And the bigger group you are, the lower the price per person. Deal!
- Climb the pyramids that are open to public. Not all of them are and sooner or later every single pyramid will be closed for climbing, so do it now … go up and enjoy the view!
I learned one more thing:
- The archaeologists are trying to get to the point when the visitors will be able just to enter the ruins but not to get to the top of the pyramids, as they are being destroyed by walking. Said in a very unpleasant way, each time a visitor falls down from the pyramid or get seriously hurt, the pyramid is closed for climbing since then. The same happened with the Temple of Kukulcan (El Castillo) in Chichén Itzá which INAH closed for climbing after a woman fell down and died in 2006.
All the Mexican pyramids are just one of the 26 reasons why I love Mexico.