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How to Explore Mexico’s Most Amazing Ruins

June 20, 2018 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

Mexico’s ancient civilisations were amongst the most sophisticated and awe-inspiring of their era. Grand, imperious, and formidable in form and feature, their skeletons remain to this day, scattered across North and Central America.  

We’re talking of the ruins of their cities, which arguably make some of the most fantastic cultural stops on any tour of this amazing country. If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting them for yourself, here’s where to go.

Spectacular Sights

Source: Pixabay

The towering pyramids, intricately decorated temples and palaces, and gruesome sacrificial sites leftover from Mexico’s most ancient cultures have been fascinating visitors to its shores since the first Spaniards landed there in 1519. Exquisitely preserved even now, they offer an intriguing insight into days long ago, making them a destination not to be missed by those travelling to the country.

Long a focus for archaeological excavations, Mexico has a plethora of ancient sites to unveil. With many of these restored and made easily accessible to visitors, it makes the perfect playground for those with a passion for history and learning. That’s not to say the intrepid explorer isn’t catered for too; in fact, thousands of ruins remain untouched, just waiting to be rediscovered by the bold and the brave.

Amongst the country’s most major ancient civilisations, five stand out:

Olmec

The Olmec civilisation is known as the ‘mother culture’ of Mexico. Reigning between 1200BC and 400BC, these ancient peoples were primarily based around the Gulf Coast. Their most famous and enduring legacy is the giant stone sculptures they created, which are today known as Olmec heads and can be seen throughout this region.

Teotihuacán

The Teotihuacán sited their kingdom just 50km from Mexico City. Famous for its huge pyramids, their base remains to this day and can be visited by travellers to the area. Ruling until 700AD, their civilisation was the largest of any ancient Mexican empire, and its antiquated grandeur is evidence of this fact beyond any doubt.

Maya

The Maya people made their home in southeast Mexico and neighbouring Guatemala and Belize. Made up of numerous city-states that existed between 250AD and 900AD, they were and are renowned for their exquisitely lovely temples and intricate stonework.

Toltec

The Toltec civilisation thrived between 750AD and 1150AD. Made up of a number of central Mexican city-states, they are best remembered for their imposing warrior sculptures, which remain in the ancient city of Tula to this day. Standing over 15 feet tall, these amazing creations weigh several tons each, raising the mystery of how such a primitive culture could possibly transport them to the top of the massive temple they crown.

Aztec

As one of the most famous civilisations not just in Mexican history, but in the history of the world, the Aztecs remain as pop culture icons even now. Inspiring everything from documentary film Why the Aztec Really Disappeared to the online slot game Aztec’s Treasure on iGaming platform Joe Fortune, they left an indelible mark behind, along with an array of exquisite sites for intrepid explorers to uncover.

Unmissable sites and museums

Source: Pixabay

So, where best to discover these ancient cultures for yourself? Most of Mexico’s major pre-Hispanic sites can be found around central, southern, and south-eastern parts of the country, as these regions are where the greatest of these civilisations were based.

In terms of their accessibility, the sites vary hugely: some are famous across the globe and spend their days thronging with visitors; others are hidden away deep in the jungle, making them much more difficult to get to.

The five you really mustn’t miss are:

  • Teotihuacán
  • Palenque
  • Chichén Itzá
  • Uxmal
  • Monte Albán

Typically open between 9 am and 5 pm, these offer visitors a truly fantastic experience, especially if you visit early in the day, when temperatures are a little lower and the crowds are not quite so large.

In terms of a travel window, you ideally want to look at going outside of either the rainy season or the hottest months, so for the main archaeological regions this means flying in:

  • August or October through to April for central Mexico
  • November through to April for the Gulf Coast
  • November through to April for the Yucatán Peninsula
  • October through to May for Chiapas
  • October through to March for Oaxaca

Isn’t it time to start planning your itinerary?

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