It is difficult to quantify the amount of archaeological sites in Mexico as in many of its neighbouring countries, there is still a large amount of ruins undercover by nature and yet to be explored. However, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) has opened to the public almost 200 archaeological sites, of the 2,000 registered throughout the country.
Although there are plenty of pre-hispanic marvels in Mexico, the reality is that Chichén Itza and Teotihuacán are the two most visited archaeological sites, particularly by foreign travellers. These two sites are magnificent and their fame is well deserved, but today we want to talk about four lesser-known archaeological sites, but equally exciting and wonderful.
Uxmal is an ancient Mayan city of the classical period that was home of over 25,000 inhabitants during its golden age. Its ruins are named World’s Heritage by UNESCO and are located in the state of Yucatan, in the so-called Puuc route.
The dominant building of this archaeological site is the Pyramid of the Adivino, which reaches 30 meters high and consists of 5 structures from different eras. The Quadrangle of the Nuns is another significant architectural compound, whose facades are an authentic work of art of the Puuc style carved in stone.
If you want to escape the crowd that visits Chichén Itzá daily, Uxmal is the perfect alternative to spend a day discovering this fantastic place without the crowds.
El Tajín, Veracruz
El Tajín was one of the main metropolis of the Totonac Empire, established mainly in the state of Veracruz and north of Puebla. The ruins are located in the magical town of Papantla, in the state of Veracruz, and since 1992 are recognized as a World Heritage Site for its high cultural and historical value.
The majesty of this site is undoubtedly refined by the striking Pyramid of the Niches, named for its 365 niches on its four facades, representing the days of the year. It is also believed that the pyramid was built as a cult of the God of Thunder, an essential deity to provide rain for crops.
Lost in the magnificent Lacandone jungle, Yaxchilán is an archaeological site that still conserves a characteristic magic inherited from the ancient Mayan-Lacandon. Only accessible by boat over the Usumancita River (also the natural borderline between Mexico and Guatemala in Chiapas), the journey to reach this hidden place undoubtedly adds excitement and suspense to the history of the place.
Although the enclave is already wonderful in itself, what makes Yaxchilán an unvaluable archaeological zone are its formidable stelae and lintels that tell the history of the dynasties of the ancient city. Don’t forget the imposing crest of one of the buildings of the Great Acropolis!
Monte Albán, Oaxaca
Monte Albán stands on a hill almost 2,000 meters above sea level and 10 km from the city of Oaxaca, sharing its World Heritage Site recognition. This ancient city was the most important Zapotec capital of the region, becoming a spiritual, commercial and political center, with great Teotihuacan influence.
In the main square of the site, you will find several important monuments such as the ball game court, the Palace, the Astronomical Observatory and the Plaza de los Danzantes, whose stelae represent characters in eccentric positions, thought to represent military victories of Monte Alban over other cities.
These are just four of the 200 archaeological sites that you can visit on your next trip in Mexico. The pre-Hispanic stories, the ruins full of legends and the culture told by our local guides are the perfect combination to create wonderful memories of your passage through our history and legacy.