Mexico is a country where civilizations have flourished since pre-historic times. It is the home of the Mayan civilization, which was one of the most advanced civilizations in the world. The Incan and Aztec civilizations have left their mark on the country and the archaeological excavations conducted are continually unearthing astounding pyramids and artefacts that show just how advanced these people were.
Here are some of the best of all the archaeological sites in the country although there are many others that are worthy of a visit.
Located just outside Mexico City, it is very easy to visit this site and feel that you have stepped back in time. The Avenue of the Dead is lined with pyramids, such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. You do not have to use very much imagination to envision what this place must have looked like in its heyday with stuccoed and brightly painted walls.
The massive sunken square, known as La Ciudadela looks as if it must have been a fortress, but it was the location of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. You can walk around this square and see the reconstructed temples. Deep inside the Feathered Serpent Temple, archaeologists have discovered human remains that were interred with precise details, giving rise to the belief that this temple may have been built up over several pyramids.
The Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest of its kind in the world and is the largest restored pyramid in the Western Hemisphere. It is thought that the first structure was built in the first century B.C. The view from the top of the 248 steps is one that will remain in your memory for a long time to come.
The panoramic vistas over the valley of Oaxaca are well worth the visit to this archaeological site. This was a great ceremonial city where you can see the different methods of building pyramids that were employed by the ancient people of Mexico. Very little of the structures remain but you can tour the ruins. This was once the center of the Zapotec culture who migrated to this region around 500 B.C.
Here you can see that the people did have contact with the Mayans in the various pyramid designs and the Mixtec, when they took over the region, added to the structures giving them a unique style. This is one of the archaeological sites in Mexico where you can see an integration of cultures over time.
Tombs created deep within the pyramids will give you the feeling that you are in Egypt rather than visiting the archaeological sites of Mexico. There is a museum and visitor center here where you can view the exhibits of artifacts that have been discovered at the site. The pottery shards unearthed suggest that this site was inhabited as early as 300 B.C. It has a very mysterious setting, which gives it a haunting atmosphere. The Temple of the Inscriptions is so named for the beautiful hieroglyphics on the interior walls. This temple also contains the tomb of King Pacal, but this is not open to the public.
As you tour this site, you can see pyramids in various stages of reconstruction. There is a ball court and the inscriptions relate the lineage of at least twelve kings of ancient Mexico.
Located just eleven miles north of Valladolid, the ruins of Ek Balam are very spectacular Mayan ruins. Archaeologists believe that this site flourished between 100 B.C. and 1200 A.D. and contains very architecturally unique structures. The pyramid is the tallest of all the Mayan ruins, even that of Chichen Itza. There is a secret doorway that is covered in perfectly preserved stucco and contains the open mouth of the god of the underworld. The representations of humans surrounding this god are amazingly detailed. You can see the raised causeways for which the Mayans are famous. If you climb to the top of the high pyramid, you will see untouched ruins in the distance that have yet to be excavated.
See the 103 carvings of the rain god, Chaac, when you visit the archaeological site of Uxmal. This ceremonial complex is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Mayans and is completely different from any others that have been discovered. The city was not built on flat land and the buildings are all constructed from carved stone. The Pyramid of the Magician is the most unique pyramid among the Mayan sites. There are four smaller sites that you can visit in this vicinity that are known as the Puac Route.
The ruins of Chichen Itza located on the Yucatan Peninsula consist of walking platforms, pyramids and ball courts that are absolutely amazing. There is a sense of wonder among all that visit this site in the sheer size of the city and the elaborate construction that defies even modern engineering.
Experience the light and sound show and stand in awe at the foot of the El Castillo Pyramid. The four stairways that lead to the top have 91 steps each and when added to the central platform at the top, they represent the 365 days of the year. The alignment of this pyramid is such that on the event of the spring and fall equinoxes, the shadow of the setting sun forms a diamond pattern that looks like that found on snakes.
The ball court is the largest and best preserved one of its kind. The walls are carved with scenes showing the games that were played on this site and shows the traditional dress of the players. There are temples at both ends of this court and the acoustics are such that a person speaking at one end can be heard at the other end.
There are many different temples and pyramids to visit at Chichen Itza so that you can spend a full day here and still not get to see everything that it contains.