The ancient ruins of La Quemada, a stunning highlight of Zacatecas

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la quemada zacatecas

Just 35 miles from the capital city of Zacatecas, the ancient ruins of La Quemada are an obligated stop when travelling through this beautiful state in northern Mexico. Here’s everything you need to know about this archaeological site before visiting.

Lost in the wind

The most valuable information about La Quemada has been lost to the effects of wind and rain over time. Also, just like their contemporaries in the humongous Teotihuacan, the people that inhabited this city had not yet developed written language.

What we do know is that the site’s heyday was between 500 and 800 D.C. The inhabitants had certainly mastered agriculture and had cultural and religious interests. Some historians believe it was a sort of gateway to the world of nomad tribes in the north. Others, that it was the northernmost settlement of the Teotihuacan empire.

Perhaps the most accepted proposition is that La Quemada which, of course, wasn’t it’s real name, was a stopping point for the many people that were constantly migrating from the wild desert life to the civilizations of central Mexico. At some point, the whole thing was burnt to ashes and abandoned, with only a few buildings surviving the catastrophe.

la quemada

What to see at La Quemada

You will most surely be better off hiring a tour guide, but just so you know, these are the top places to look for at the ruins of La Quemada.

The so-called Salón de las Columnas reveals the rudimentary but solid architectural techniques of the original inhabitants. Also, watch out for an authentic ceremonial ball game court, with the classic “I” shape that was the norm back in the day.


la quemada

Perhaps the most iconic building is the Votiva Pyramid, a 32 feet tall structure that is believed to have hosted a temple. Other ceremonial and defense-oriented structures can be found at the Citadel. The Sacrifice Pyramid, as you might guess, was most probably used to make human sacrifices, a common practice in that era.

How to get to La Quemada

From the City of Zacatecas, all you have to do is take the western exit from the city, that’s highway 54, and drive 35 miles south until you see the signs directing you to the site’s entrance. If you don’t have a car, you can catch a bus at the city’s terminal.

The ancient ruins of La Quemada are a stunning highlight of Zacatecas that you can’t miss out on when you’re traveling around this area!


The ancient ruins of La Quemada, a stunning highlight of Zacatecas