Yes, places like Chichen Itza in Yucatan and Teotihuacan in greater Mexico City are stunning, but sometimes it feels like they get all the attention. There are many more equally fascinating archaeological sites in Mexico that you probably haven’t even heard of.
Here’s a list of 7 ancient ruins sites in Mexico that are not Chichen Itza but are sure to amaze and surprise you. You can’t miss them!
1. El Tajín
Only 10 miles from the town of Poza Rica, the remains of this city are almost all that is left from the Totonac, a civilization that reaches its peak at around 800 A.D. The architectural features of its buildings, especially the main pyramid, separate this archaeological site from the rest. The use of decorative niches, as seen here, is otherwise unknown in the continent.
If you haven’t heard of this huge Mayan capital, you’re in for a treat. Located in the middle of a lush jungle in the state of Chiapas, the site remains remarkably well preserved, even 1500 years after its heyday. The so-called Palace and the Temple of Inscriptions are unforgettable sights!
Maybe one of the least known and most underrated Mayan megacities, Calakmul is a very special place that became the first Mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site, for both the ancient ruins and the megadiverse rainforest that surrounds them. The view from the top of the pyramid is unbeatable.
4. La Venta
Before the Aztec, the Mayan, and even the mysterious people from Teotihuacan, there were the Olmecs, considered the most ancient civilization native to America. La Venta, located in modern day Tabasco, was their great capital and, even after several millennia, some of it remains for the curious eyes to discover.
For a brief period, the Toltec people from Tula carried the torch of the ancient knowledge that originated in Teotihuacan, giving continuity to religious icons like Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god that would continue to exist for dozens of civilizations. In this period, they managed to build a stunning city, marked by the gigantic statues that are known as the atlantes.
The old Purepecha or Tarascan capital is like no other ancient ruin site in Mexico. The yácatas, pyramid-like structures that combine rectangular and circular shapes, are a unique demonstration of the ambition and creativity that this old culture, native to modern day Michoacán, was known for.
7. Monte Albán
If you ever travel to Oaxaca, Monte Albán is an obligatory stop. The capital of the great Zapotec civilization, it was a major political and cultural hub for the region. Dating back to 200 B.C., it is a spectacular display of architecture, art, and urban development.
Step out of your comfort zone and explore these 7 ancient ruins sites in Mexico that will take your breath away. Remember to look for a City Express hotel at any given location that you travel to in Mexico!