Mexico’s Mesoamerican Pyramid Sites

April 10th, 2014 by
Categories: History, Mexico, Pyramids, Ruins

Let’s go visit some pyramids!

Sure, the pyramids in Egypt are spectacular, but you don’t necessarily have to travel half way around the globe to see some excellent examples of ancient pyramids. Mexico, our next door neighbor to the south, has many remarkable archeological sites that you can actually drive to. Below is a list of some Mesoamerican pyramid sites that can be found in Mexico:

Mesoamerican pyramid sites in Mexico

Bonampak

Known as The Temple of the Murals, Bonampak is located close to the Usumacinta River, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The structures here were built by the Mayans sometime between 580 AD and 800 AD. Some of the most well-preserved Mayan murals can be found at this site.

Calakmul

Often referred to as The Great Pyramid, is located in the deep jungles of the Petén Basin, in Mexican state of Campeche, and its site was once one of the largest and most powerful ancient Mayan cities.

Chichen Itza

Mexico PyramidsCommonly called El Castillo, was built by the Mayan culture, and is located in the municipality of Tinum, in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza means "at the mouth of the well of the Itza"

Cholula

The Great Pyramid of Cholula was built by the Xelhua culture between 300 BC and 800 BC, and is located in the Mexican state Puebla, to the west of the modern city of Puebla. Cholula stands 66 meters high and is the largest pyramid and the largest manmade monument in the world.

Coba

Is the site of a large ruined Mayan city, with several pyramid structures that were built sometime between 500 AD and 900 AD. Coba, which was first settled between 100 BC and 100 AD, is located next to five lakes, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Coba is a huge site with over 6500 structures that spread over nearly 70 kilometers, and it is considered to be the most important archeological site in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Comalcalco

Located in the modern-day Comalcalco Municipality, approximately 45 miles northwest of Villahermosa, in the Mexican state of Tabasco. This Pre-Columbian Mayan archaeological site has buildings made out of fired-clay bricks, with mortar made from oyster shells.

El Tajín

El Tajín is also known as the Pyramid of the Niches, Pyramid of Papantla, and the Pyramid of the Seven Stories. This site is located in modern day Veracruz, in the highlands of the municipality of Papantla. Studies show this site has been occupied since 5600 BC, but it still remains unclear as to which Mesoamerican culture actually built the city, although some speculate that since the Huastec populated the area around the time that the Tajín settlement was founded, that they were likely the builders.

El Tepozteco

El Tepozteco is an Aztec archaeological site in the Mexican state of Morelos, and is believed to have been built around 1502 AD. This small temple, standing just 12.4 meters high, was built to honor Tepoztecatl, the Aztec god of the alcoholic pulque beverage, which is made from the fermented sap of the agave plant.

La Venta

Located in near Villahermosa in the Mexican state of Tabasco, La Venta is one of the earliest pyramids known in Mesoamerica. La Venta was built by the ancient Olmec culture, using an estimated 100,000 cubic meters of earth fill, and is often called The Great Pyramid.

Mayapan

Mayapan is Columbia Mayan archeological site located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Mayapan has over 4000 structures within its city walls and it served as the Mayan Yucatán Peninsula capital from about 1220 AD to 1440 AD.

Moral-Reforma

Is a Mayan archeological site built during the classic period, and is located in the Balancán Municipality, in the Mexican state of Tabasco. The first mention of this pyramid, dating back to 1907, was made by Teobert Maler, whom many consider to be the discoverer of the site.

Palenque

Has ruins that are believed to have been built between 226 BC to about 799 AD by the Mayan culture, and contains some of the finest carvings, sculptures and architecture that they have produced. Palenque is home to a number of notable structures, including; Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Foliated Cross, Temple of the Inscriptions, Temple of the Skull, Temple of the Count, Temple XIII, Temple of the Jaguar and a great palace located in the center of the ancient city.

Santa Cecilia Acatitlan

In the ancient Aztec language of Nahuatl, Acatitlan means "place among the reeds.” This site is located in the town of Santa Cecilia, within the municipality of Tlalnepantla de Baz, in the Mexican state of Mexico. Architect and archaeologist, Eduardo Pareyon Moreno, rebuilt and reinforced the basement and temple that sits on top of the pyramid, in 1962.

Tenayuca

Considered to be the earliest capital city of the nomadic Chichimecs, this is yet another pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the Valley of Mexico, with in the state of Mexico. This site boasts one of the earliest examples of the typical Aztec double pyramid, with a pair of pyramidal bases joined together to support two temples.

Tenochtitlan

Once located in Lake Texcoco, on an island, in the Valley of Mexico, today these ruins are in the central part of Mexico City. Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325, and during the 15th century it served as the capital of the Mexica, or Aztec, empire, until it was destroyed by Spanish conquistadors, with the aid of their native allies, in 1521.

Teotihuacan

Believed to have been established sometime around 100 BC, this pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city is located about 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, in the Valley of Mexico. Along with the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, the site also contains many multi-family residential complexes, and the famed "Calzada de los Muertos" or Avenue of the Dead.

Tula

Archeological evidence shows that settlements were established at Tula as early as 400 BC. Today, Tula is connected to the modern city of Tula de Allende, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. There are many notable structures here, including; The Quetzalcoatl pyramid, The Burnt Palace along and massive Toltec Atlantean Warrior column statues.

Uxmal

Thought to be one of the most significant Mayan culture archaeological sites, Uxmal has some excellent examples of Mesoamerican structures built between 850 AD and 1100 AD. The Pyramid of the Magician, Governor's Palace, Grand Pyramid, Nunnery Quadrangle, House of Birds, House of the Doves, House of Turtles, a North Long Building, a South Temple, and a large ball court, are all notable structures found at the Uxmal site.

Xochicalco

Known as the Temple of the Feather Serpent, Xochicalco was founded by the Olmeca-Xicallanca around 650 AD. The site was first occupied around 200 BC and it flourished until sometime around 900 AD when the city was burned and destroyed. Later, around 1200 AD, the site was once again colonized, but this time by the Tlahuica. Some items of interest that can be found this site, include; the Temple of the Feather Serpent, palaces, sculptured reliefs on the sides of some buildings, circular altars, a cave with steps carved out of rock, three ball courts, sweat baths, and a number of standing sculptured stelae.

Xochitecatl

Located on the summit of an extinct volcano, in the Mexican State of Tlaxcala, the archaeological site at Xochitecatl has structures that were built sometime between 1000 BC and 400 BC. Xochitecatl is a Nahuatl phrase that translates loosely as “person of flowers.” Some notable structures to see at this site include; the Spiral Building, Pyramid of Flowers, Serpent Building and Platform of the Volcanoes.

Yaxchilan

Located in the Mexican state of Chiapas, along the bank of the Usumacinta River, Yaxchilan is a site with notably well preserved inlets, doorways, and stelae, with intricately carved hieroglyphics, that describe the history of the city. The earliest date referenced in the texts found at the site is from late July in 359 AD, when Yopaat B'alam assumed the throne.

Your journey to see Mesoamerican Pyramids

If you are planning to make the drive down to see any of Mexico’s pyramids, be sure to purchase Mexico Car Insurance before crossing the border. You can get comparative quotes and purchase a policy online, in just a matter of minutes, at mexpro.com.