The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo

By TravelWiseFeb 22, 2024 22:07 PMNews
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El Castillo, Chichen Itza
El Castillo, Chichen Itza. Source: Getty

Everyone has probably heard of the Mayan people who ruled (and still live) in southern Mexico and Central America. You may have also heard of the Aztecs, whose great capital was the basis for what is now Mexico City. Their iconic cities, such as Chichen Itza and Tenochtitlan, are some of Mexico's most famous landmarks.

But Mexico has been home to many other indigenous civilizations, all of which have left an indelible mark on the country's archaeological and cultural history. Today, Mexico is home to more than 16 million indigenous peoples belonging to 68 ethno-linguistic groups. All of these groups have influenced modern Mexico, but the pyramids are particularly impressive, Yahoo writes.

El Castillo, Chichen Itza, Yucatan

Chichen Itza is one of the most famous Mayan cities in the world, with the impressive nine-step pyramid of El Castillo at its center. An engineering feat and an astronomical marvel, the pyramid was designed so that every year on the day of the equinox, sunlight creates the shadowy illusion of a snake descending each step of the pyramid. Equinox is the most popular time to visit Chichen Itza, so expect huge crowds and a very enthusiastic atmosphere.

Temple of Inscriptions, Palenque, Chiapas

One of the little-visited archaeological sites in Mexico is the city of Palenque, which is deeply buried in the dense jungle of the southern state of Chiapas. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is what remains of a stunning Mayan city that peaked between 500 and 700 AD.

The Temple of the Inscriptions was one of the few Mayan temples that was built to house a tomb, that of Pacal (the most famous ruler of Palenque).

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan, Mexico

No one knows for sure who built Teotihuacan, as it contains evidence of Toltec, Totonac, Maya, Mixtec, and Zapotec cultures. One of the largest ancient cities in the Americas, it was built about 1000 years before the arrival of the Aztecs. Today, it is best known for its two main pyramids: the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

Great Pyramid of Cholula, Cholula, Puebla

This beautiful historic city is best known for the canary yellow church that stands atop a hill. In fact, it's not a hill at all; the church sits atop the largest pyramid in the world.

In a prime example of colonialism, the Spanish built their Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios on top of the pyramid, and the church still stands today. But what remains of the pyramid is a monumental mound that hints at its great size and power. The temple was built between the 3rd century BC and the 9th century AD and is dedicated to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl.

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal, Yucatan

There are legends surrounding the creation of the pyramid, including one that says the building was constructed in one night by a magical man born from a witch's egg. He built the pyramid in one night to challenge the current king and became King Uxmal himself, hence the name "Pyramid of the Magician." (Of course, as with many legends, the details depend on who is telling the story.)

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

Calakmul, Campeche

One of the most impressive and important Mayan sites is also one of the least visited. This place is Calakmul - a rival to the huge city of Tikal in Guatemala - shrouded in the dense jungle of the state of Campeche within the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calakmul was an extremely important city for over 1200 years. Excavations have revealed magnificent stucco friezes and murals, as well as burial chambers for kings and nobles. Structure 2 at Calakmul is one of the tallest Mayan pyramids in the world, standing 148 feet tall. Four tombs were also located in the pyramid.

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

El Torre, Ek Balam, Yucatan

On the way to Chichen Itza, there is another lesser-known Mayan site called Ek Balam. This Mayan city, located near the modern Spanish city of Valladolid, reached its heyday between 700 and 1000 AD, although it was active for over 1000 years. Only the center of Ek Balam has been excavated, with 45 structures mapped.

El Torre, also known as the Tower, is one of the largest Mayan structures in the region, measuring over 500 feet long, 200 feet wide, and 100 feet high. Its inscriptions are not carved into the rock like those of other pyramids. Instead, the creators used stucco and limestone to form beautiful images. El Torre is also home to the tomb of Ukit Kan Lek Tok, one of the city's rulers.

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

The pyramids at Monte Alban, Oaxaca

In the hills about 10 minutes from downtown Oaxaca is one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Mexico. Monte Albán was inhabited for over 15 centuries by various indigenous groups, including the Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs, and for 1300 years Monte Albán was the capital of the Zapotec world. These groups built impressive terraces, dams, canals and pyramids, many of which still exist today.

There are many different pyramids in the complex, which today look like raised platforms topped with temples. The beauty of Monte Alban lies in the many different structures that visitors can wander through, following in the footsteps of the prominent people who lived here many centuries ago. Around Monte Alban there are magnificent views of the mountains and the city of Oaxaca.

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

Pyramid of Nish, El Tahin, Veracruz

One of the most unique and fascinating archaeological sites in Mexico is El Tahin, located in Veracruz. Its creators are still unknown, but experts assume that it was built by the indigenous Totonac and Huastec peoples. The Aztecs eventually seized control of the region around 1200 AD.

The Pyramid of Nish, although low, is a real work of art. It consists of six platforms, each marked with niches that were probably used as a calendar.

The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo
The 9 best pyramids to visit in Mexico have been named. Photo. Source: Getty

As TravelWise reported, Oaxaca, Mexico, has become the number one destination in the world for the second year in a row.

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