Archaeology of Mexico
As someone who has traveled extensively through Mexico, I'm going
to give you the scoop on the ruins from the perspective of a tourist
rather than an archaeologist (which I'm not).
So . . . here is my list of personal favorite archaeological sites
in Mexico in the order I feel is deserving of notice.
Teotihuacan (about 25 mi North of Mexico City) is the first on this
list because it is the most impressive in terms of scale and restoration.
This site is truly huge with the Pyramid of the Sun rivaling the
grandeur of the great pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. If the priests
had to climb that thing every day, there were no fat priests (stair
master + altitude that will kick your butt).
Palenque (usually visited from Villa Hermosa or San Cristobal de
las Casas) makes number two on my list for its extremely well preserved
structures. This ancient city is (in my opinion) the most beautiful
ruin in Mexico.
Monte Alban (Oaxaca City) comes in as third for its extreme difficulty
in construction. Located on a mountain overlooking three valleys,
the builders sheered off the top of the mountain to flatten it, built
it to catch every bit of rain water and store it under the city,
and subterranean passageways that went from one temple to the other.
Tulum (south of Playa del Carmen) comes in fourth because of its
extreme scenic beauty on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean . . .
and the nearby Coba ruins that is still being excavated, but makes
a great companion trip while in the area.
Uxmal (from Merida) comes in fifth. These ruins are not as popular
as the ruins of Chichen Itza (a tad closer to Cancun) but they are
(in my opinion) more impressive.
Chichen Itza then comes in sixth. Though many would argue the point
based on archaeological importance, I'm writing about what I saw and
what impressed me.
There are tons of other ruins in Mexico and I would whole heartedly
recommend that you visit any ruins that are near your destination.
The history of a people etched in stone is what gives us some perspective
on the culture.
Remember that you will need to pay an entrance fee to get into the
major ruins and that you should bring water, sun screen, and a good
Above all, try to learn something about the ruins before you get
there. Unless you are planning on hiring a guide, there is a lot
you will miss if you aren't looking for it.