Mexico has a lot to offer for those who are always looking for new adventures, and the archaeological sites are a must if you go there.
Thousands of unknown history define these kinds of places and that means they will always surprise you.
Table of Contents
Ranking The Top 12 Archaeological Sites in Mexico
Out of 180 archaeological zones discovered In Mexico so far, these are the best 12 to explore.
12) Edzná Archaeological Site
Located in the state of Campeche, this little but charming place will make you want to discover more about ancient civilizations.
Edzná pinnacle was around 400 BC when it was flooded by the Mayan culture.
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The main Temple is the most attractive building there, however, you can also the parallel built ball courts in the place.
If you are planning on visiting archaeological places, Edzná would be a nice place to start your adventure in Mexican Pre-Hispanic history.
11) El Tajín
Situated in the southern state of Veracruz, El Tajín is an important part of Veracruz culture.
Numerous temples, pyramids and even palaces surround this archaeological site that dates from 1200 CE.
Everyone gets excited when they first set foot here, not for nothing this place has around 300,000 visitors every year.
The Pyramid of the Niches is the main attraction here due to their unusual structure and incredible preservation over the Centuries.
The unique design of the pyramids makes the place even more special as there are not such style in any Mesoamerican civilization.
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10) El Cerrito Archaeological Site
Now comes one of the most underrated touristic spots in all of the Mexican territory. El Cerrito archaeological site extends in Querétaro, the heart of the country.
The Chupícuaro culture that inhabited this site around 300 CE not only built one of the most beautiful pyramids in the world, but they also left an archaeological site full of jewels, gemstones and other precious stones all around the area.
The site’s museum offers a wonderful history of the ancient civilization that strolled the place. You can also see the gems and jewelry people used to wear and you can even see fossilized inhabitants.
Without a doubt, a place you would not want to miss out.
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9) El Tepozteco, Tepoztlan
The ranking continues with one of the most amazing yet difficult sites to reach.
El Tepozteco lies at the peak of the tallest mountain in the Magic Town of Tepoztlan, in the state of Morelos.
It is still a secret how ancient inhabitants built this temple at the top of the Sierra Tepoztlan, a 600-meters high and steep mountain, and 1,200 meters over the sea level.
However, what researches do know is that this temple served as the playground for praising Tepoztēcatl, the Aztec God of the alcoholic beverage pulque.
Both locals and tourists can climb the Sierra Tepoztlan to visit this incredible place and at the same time having a 360-degree view of the Tepoztlan.
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8) Monte Alban
Another high ground archaeological place that will delight you forever.
Monte Alban is located in the southern state of Oaxaca, specifically in the Valley of Oaxaca. And its construction dates from the 8th Century.
There you will find a different array of structures such as pyramids, temples, plazas, underground passageways and also the most sophisticated tomb system in the Pre-Columbian Americas with over 150 tombs.
As it is in high ground, the view you will have once you arrive is unparalleled.
However, Monte Alban is suffering a big threat due to human urbanization. While humans continue to expand, Monte Alban is losing land.
Sheltered in the vastness of the southern Mexican jungle, Calakmul rises to impress the luckiest ones who see it.
Located in Campeche, this archaeological site was once a powerful city in the Mayan culture.
There are more than 6,700 identified structures in Calakmul, which the Great Pyramid is the tallest one with 45 meters high.
The site is so isolated that you will have a sensation Mayans are observing you as you walk. You will feel immersed in the immenseness of the place as the hours goes by.
And that is for itself an experience you have to live.
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6) Uxmal Archaeological Site
Uxmal is one of the most important ancient cities for the Maya Civilization. It lies in Yucatan, the capital city of the state of Merida in southern Mexico.
Due to its importance, UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage.
Uxmal was at its peak between 800-925 AD when it was the capital of the Maya State.
The Pyramid is the Magician is the most popular attraction there, alongside The Governor’s Palace and The Throne of the Jaguar.
Moreover, you can also appreciate the Mayan traditional symbols all over the place.
It is, indeed, an aye-catching spot to explore.
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Hidden in the dense jungles of the state of Chiapas, Palenque will leave you on shock.
This Pre-Hispanic city that ages from the 7th Century will tell you everything you need to know about Mayan architecture.
What a wonderful place to visit, the Mayans made a remarkable job in Palenque’s architecture.
In fact, it is easy to spot why this place is in everyone’s bucket list when it comes to Archeological sites.
Palenque is the home of The Temple of the Inscriptions, the biggest pyramid built by the Maya Civilization.
Nevertheless, Palenque has so much more, even more, to offer.
If you walk around a little bit you will come across The Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, The Temple of the Skulls and Temple of the Foliated Cross.
Also, you can see The Palace and the aqueduct. It is impossible not to get loose there.
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4) Toniná Archaeological Zone
Toniná is yet another Maya ancient civilization and a close rival with Palenque.
Situated in the state of Chiapas, this spot has a diversity of pyramids that served as temples.
Also, you can see the ballcourts that Mesoamericans used to play ballgames.
The place is breathtaking itself as it is in the middle of the jungle. The buildings will make you wonder how on earth they built such structures there.
And of course, it is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year.
The city is well-known for having the last existing worldwide famous Maya Calendar.
Without a question, this is a trip you will love to do.
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3) Tulum Ruins
Tulum is a major Maya city that functioned as a fortress around the 14th and 15th Century.
It is in the Caribbean Quintana Roo state and it is also one of the most important tourist attractions in Mexico.
Mayans utilised Tulum as an important land and sea route for trades, as well as a fort defence for invasions.
Moreover, Tulum is as beautiful as it was important for Mayans, and millions of visitors delight themselves every year there.
Also, it is closed from Mexico’s most famous city, Cancun. Only 118 Kilometers separate these two dream destinations!.
The Pyramid El Castillo is the most famous structure there. However, the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God are also a trademark in Tulum.
It doesn’t matter which time of the year you decide to go, Tulum should always be in your bucket list!
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2) Chichén Itzá
Worldwide famous and incredible cultural importance, Chichén Itzá occupies the number 2 of this list for a good reason.
This place describes itself with only looking at it. No words needed.
Another Maya city and this is the most popular one attracting millions of tourists and locals every year.
Chichén Itzá is a UNESCO World Heritage and you can easily notice why.
There are countless and unknown stories in this place that make this archaeological site even more impressive.
Chichén Itzá lies in modern-day Yucatan state, in the Yucatan Peninsula and its prime as civilization was between 600-1200 AD.
There are many buildings and sites to peek at there. However, pyramid El Castillo is the most famous structure.
In fact, El Castillo is 30 meters high and was the Temple of Kukulkan, an ancient Maya feathered serpent deity.
Furthermore, you can also see thirteen ballcourts that Mayans used as a playground to venerate their Gods.
The Temple of the Warriors is another must-see in the area. The pyramid portrays a warrior formation, and it attracts all kinds of visitors.
In addition, Sacred Cenote is another worth seeing spot. Cenotes are natural sinkholes that are very common in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Indeed, Chichén Itzá has its own water-filled Cenote where Mayans performed human sacrifices as a form of devotion to the Maya rain god Chaac.
Chichén Itzá welcomes nearly 2 million tourists every year, making it the second most visited archaeological zone in Mexico.
If you travelled to Mexico and you did not come to Chichén Itzá. Did you really visit Mexico?. Of course no! That is why GetYourGuide provides the best trips to Chichén Itzá and all Yucatan Peninsula.
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Special mention: Cholula
Before revealing number 1, Cholula deserves a shoutout on this list.
Not for the place itself, but because it has The Great Pyramid of Cholula, the largest pyramid of the world by total area.
It has 55 meters high by 450 meters long and 450 meters wide.
You find Cholula in the state of Puebla, and unfortunately, people can only peek the pyramid as it is cover by vegetation.
Nonetheless, the pyramid remains there and it is the largest by land area.
Teotihuacán, where men became gods.
You definitely will feel like a God on earth walking around this ancient city. Simply, amazing.
Located 40 km northeast Mexico City, this area covers 83 square kilometers.
Attracting on average 4 million visitors every, Teotihuacán is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico and one of the most visited touristic places on the whole planet.
Also, know as the ”City of the God”, Teotihuacán had 125,000 inhabitants in its heyday, around the years 350-600 AD, making it the most important urban center in Mesoamerica at the time.
Researchers found that the Aztecs came across this place when it was abandoned and claimed it as theirs.
However, investigation suggests that Teotihuacanos were the first inhabitants of this area nearly 1000 years before the Aztecs arrived. Hence, They were the ones who built the pyramids and not the Aztecs, as people usually believe.
Teotihuacán was the most important city in its period and it remains as the most remarkable archaeological site in western civilization.
Plenty of history covers the place, but the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the moon standout there.
The Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid of the ancient world with 65,5 meters high, 220 meters length and 224 meters width.
On the other hand, the Pyramid of the Moon is at least 100 years older than its sister. It is the second-largest building in Teotihuacán and it is at the end of the Avenue of the Dead.
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The massive Avenue of the Dead Is the main road in this place. it covers 4 km in length and 40 meters in width. Visitors stroll around the avenue to the total magnitude of Teotihuacán.
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To keep in mind
As a tradition in Teotihuacán, visitors climb at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun every year on March 21st on The Vernal Equinox. That day people wear white clothes to receive “positive energies” from above as they raise their hands to the sky.
Teotihuacán set a record of visitors every year on March 21st. More than 500,000 people go to Teotihuacán that day for that reason.
However, archaeologists Sergio Gómez Chávez and Alejandro Sarabia stated that this activity has nothing to do with Teotihuacán and the accumulation of people could possibly harm and deteriorate the pyramids.
After reading this article you will like to pack your baggage and discover new places with hundreds of stories.
So, what archaeological site you will visit first? If you are heading to Mexico during the pandemic, here is what it’s like travel in Mexico during COVID-19.