184 Zonas
Clave / IDNombreResumen ENDescripción ENSabías qué EN
CalixtlahuacaThe prosperous city of Matlazinca, between the Mexica empire and the Purépecha zone of influence. Conquered by the Mexicas in 1474, the remains date from this period. Notable for the rounded bases of the Temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, with its tzompantli (wall of skulls).Otomi, Teotihuacano, Toltec, Mazahua, Matlatzinca and Nahua groups settled in the Toluca Valley in pre-Hispanic times.

Olmec-influenced organized groups invaded in the Preclassic period (1000 BC to 150 AD). From 250 AD, the Teotihuacanos occupied the Toluca Valley and Calixtlahuaca, as well as other sites, owing to the diversity of resources they offered for subsistence. It was the Teotihuacanos who introduced customs and rites such as the Mesoamerican ballgame and the cult of Quetzalcóatl and Tláloc.

When Teotihuacan fell, there was a Toltec invasion of Calixtlahuaca. The Toltecs were then supplanted by the Matlatzincas, who called themselves the Nepinthathuhui (“those from the land of maize”). Their zenith lasted between 1116 and 1476.

Between 1472 to 1476, the Mexicas (together with Axayácatl and the Triple Alliance) conquered the Matlatzincas under the command of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin and imposed the payment of tribute, as shown in the Tribute Roll.

The Calixtlahuaca-San Marcos Archeological Monument Zone is distributed along a segment of Cerro Tenismó. Monuments 13, 14 and 15, which are not open to the public, are located on the hilltop. Monuments 5 and 6 (South and West monuments) stand halfway up the hillside. These form the group known as El Panteón ("The Cemetery"). Meanwhile, monuments 4 and 7, together with the tzompantli, make up the Tláloc group. Monuments 8, 9, 10 and 11 are not accessible to visitors. Finally, monuments 1 and 3 are located on the lower hillside, and groups 16 and 17 (Calmécac) are on the plain.

The building complexes located on the flank of Cerro Tenismó stand on terraces which were leveled out and then filled in and supported by thick retaining walls.

A tour of the monuments open to the public takes approximately two hours.
  • The site retains traces of the various groups that lived there, such as Otomi, Teotihuacanos, Toltecs, Mazahuas, Matlatzincas and Nahuas.
  • More than 50 petroglyphs have been found related to symbols of water, fire, wind, or referring to deities such as Ehécatl Quetzalcóatl.
Cañada de la VirgenThe seat of a religious and calendar-based domain for agricultural systems and trade routes. Its principal constructions were designed as observatories, such as the House of the Thirteen Skies and the House of the Longest Night, which relates to the winter solstice.This ceremonial settlement has a Hñahñu (Otomí) origin and was occupied between the years 540 and 1050 AD (Epiclassic period).The ancient inhabitants built it based on observation of the Sun’s route, in such a way that its temples are symmetrically aligned with the stars, a characteristic which makes this city unique among Mesoamerican ceremonial centers.

Cañada de la Virgen is located in the basin of the Laja River, which is surrounded by mountains. The site is comprised of five monumental complexes distributed over an area of 40 acres. There is an axis of symmetry in the buildings oriented towards the sunrises of April 17 and August 25, as well as the sunsets of March 4 and October 9.

The axis of symmetry of complex A has an azimuthal orientation (the angle formed with the meridian by the vertical circle which passes through a point of the celestial sphere or the earth) of 80 astronomical degrees. Meanwhile, at the winter solstice, the Sun can be seen to hide behind the pyramidal base of complex B.

Additionally, the lunar cycle is considered to have played an important role in the design of the pyramidal base of complex A. Here, the Red Temple is found, where burial 13 was located, also known as El Jerarca ("The Leader"), as it presumably belonged to the original ancestor of the governing lineage at Cañada de la Virgen. Controversial carbon analysis estimated that this figure was buried between the years 640 and 720 AD.

So far, 19 burials have been found, accompanied by their corresponding offerings of ceramic pots in the regional style of raised white and red on yellowish white. The ceramic collection is comprised of 248 pieces of which more than 70% have been restored. Within the area another three collections are also under protection, having been reintegrated into the site's heritage: the Mary Gastón, the Arnulfo López and the historic Miguel Malo collection, which comprises approximately 1,400 pieces.
  • Unlike other pre-Hispanic cities like Teotihuacan, Palenque or Xochicalco, where the Sun rises behind the pyramid, in Cañada de la Virgen, it appears opposite it.
  • The location of the Casa de la Noche más Larga ("House of the Longest Night") is related to the winter solstice, when the longest night occurs as a result of the annual movement of the Sun towards the south.
CantonaA vast fortified pre-Hispanic city which controlled the trade route between the high central plateau and the Gulf of Mexico. Everything about it is extraordinary: the acropolis, the plazas, districts, approximately 4,000 interconnected streets and numerous ballcourts. Its skilled craftsmen worked obsidian.Although this ancient metropolis stands upon a malpaís (an arid lava field with an uneven surface), its population inhabited it in residential units surrounded by periphery walls. We have found at least 2,700 residential units in the southern part (the most closely studied), and calculate that it had approximately 7,500 at its time of greatest occupation, when just over 90,000 people lived here. The presence of 27 or more Mesoamerican ballgame courts gave it unusual significance. Its cultural height came between 350 BC and 550 AD. After 600 AD, its population grew significantly, and in this time (until 900 AD) it was the largest and most important city on the Central Mexican Plateau.

The inhabitants of Cantona traded in artifacts made of obsidian which they obtained from the Oyameles-Zaragoza deposits a mere six miles northeast of the city. The state controlled production to ensure the exchange of goods and products required. In one area, we have found just over 350 official workshops.

Cantona is not mentioned in the historical sources, as it was abandoned approximately 500 years before the Spanish colonists arrived. Today, the southern part of the city has been explored and restored. This covers a large portion of the main civic and religious center, some streets, closed plazas with pyramids and six ballcourts, as well as residential units for both the elite and general population. Especially worth visiting are the Eastern Plaza or Mirador Pyramid, from which a large part of the south of the city can be seen, as are the state workshops, the Ballcourt 7 Complex and neighboring architectural complexes, as well as the Ballcourt 5 Complex, from which we can see the western side of the Acropolis. It is also recommended to visit the residential units surrounded by periphery walls, to examine the plinths upon which the houses were built and the comfort in which their inhabitants lived.
  • The city was connected by a system of thoroughfares: causeways, roads, private thoroughfares and corridors.
  • It traded in obsidian to the south and southeast of Mexico from at least 700 BC to approximately 900 AD.
  • It is home to the largest number of ballcourts of any pre-Hispanic city found to date, with 27.
Caracol - Punta SurIn the main ecological reserve of the island of Cozumel, off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, there is a temple whose roof ends in the shape of a shell, decorated with four rows of shells stuck into the stucco. This unique decoration makes it worth a visit.
Castillo de TeayoAn ancient Huasteca town, one of the most important sites on the Gulf of Mexico, its material remains show the influence of the Maya, Toltec and Mexica cultures, at different stages over the years. It has a magnificent pyramid topped by a temple.
CempoalaA powerful Totonaca capital, dominated a great part of present day Veracruz and the north of the state of Puebla. Temples, palaces, squares and fortifications testify to its importance as a political and religious center. As part of the Mexica dominion, it allied with Hernán Cortés in order to defeat Moctezuma.
Cerro de la EstrellaThe slopes of the hill where the hacienda was located had been inhabited from the earliest times, and the settlement grew in importance as the site of New Fire ceremonies, believed to revive the sun at the end of the cycle. It was celebrated every 52 years with ceremonies held in 1351, 1403, 1455 and 1507. The fall of Tenochtitlan prevented the celebration of the fifth event.The archeological site is situated on top of the Cerro de la Estrella, in Iztapalapa. The ancient inhabitants of the Central Highlands called the place Huizachtepetl. This site was of great importance because it was where the "xiuhmolpilli" or New Fire ceremony to regenerate time and the sun took place every 52 years.

Excavations have shown that this settlement was occupied for a long period, from the Preclassic (1000 BC) up to the conquest of Mexico in 1521. The site’s first inhabitants settled in small villages on the slopes of the Cerro de la Estrella, with early signs of farming. Numerous structures were built from 600 to 900 AD, increasing the size of the population. Chroniclers such as Bernardino de Sahagún, Toribio Benavente Motolinía and Juan de Torquemada mention that from 900 to 1300 Chichimec groups arrived in the western section of the hill where the city of Culhuacan was founded.

The Mexica defeated Azcapotzalco around the year 1300, expanding their territory into the Colhua region, where they subjugated the population and established the town of Iztapalapa, which, together with Culhuacan, protected the southern approach to Tenochtitlan and provided sources of food for the central inhabitants.

The first excavations and archeological work took place in 1974-75 under the direction of Jorge Acosta. The Department of the Federal District carried out works on the slopes of the hill in 1976, and in the process of laying foundations the remains of a stucco floor, walls and ceramic fragments were uncovered. Investigations of the hill uncovered a cist built from craniums lined up like stones together with the remains of infants. It is notable that the bones show cut marks and signs of having been burnt, as if the children had been dismembered and ritually consumed. The stucco which covered the sidewalks contained the remains of bones, while fragments of basket, incense burners, beads of green stone, copper rattles and a green stone whistle were found in the debris covering the pyramid. A fired clay box containing a head of Xipe Totec was found under the floor of the terrace built in front of the pyramid.
  • The Mexica conceived of the universe as a great flower with four petals representing the cardinal directions, while at the center of the flower lay the great Tenochtitlan.
  • In order to avoid the “death of the Sun," which would bring total darkness to the universe, the priesthood would carry out a New Fire ceremony every 52 years, at the moment when the start of the solar and lunar years coincided.
  • Research has revealed that the Colhua were the first to use the summit of the hill to carry out the "toxiuhmopolli" or New Fire ceremony.
Via Calzada Estrella, it is very close to the intersection of Ermita Iztapalapa and Av. Javier Rojo Goméz.

Metro Line 8, station Iztapalapa- Cerro de la Estrella.
Cerro de Las VentanasThe majestic Cerro de las Ventanas rises close to the southern end of the Juchipila Canyon. It was named after the pre-Hispanic remains found in a rock shelter under the mountain’s highest crag. The shelter has a stone wall covered in clay with a few holes which look like windows from a distance.Contrary to what we might expect, this ancient settlement has many archeological remains distributed across practically the whole of the mountainous terrain, extending up to the neighboring Cerro Chihuahua. These remains include a monument complex covering the whole summit of the Cerro de las Ventanas.

There are remains of shaft tombs dating to the first centuries AD very close to the mountainside. This was a sedentary society which practiced agriculture. Since the Cerro de las Ventanas is surrounded by a curve of the Juchipila River, it is probable that the cultivation of crops was one of the principal activities of the ancient inhabitants, making use of the river banks for this purpose.

Various terraces and platforms have been found on the east side of the mountain slopes. These modified the terrain by countering the slope to create flat spaces for dwellings and possibly for cultivation. Adaptations of this nature can also be seen in other areas of the mountain, serving as the foundations for building complexes used for ceremonies between the seventh and fifteenth centuries.

Topographical adaptation for architectural purposes altered the appearance of the mountainside, building a cultural landscape which served as a place of worship for at least seven or eight centuries.

Several human burials of different periods have been uncovered on the lower parts of the mountainside with grave goods and offerings consisting of sea-shell bracelets, pots, clay figurines and copper ornaments in later burials.

Human occupation was interrupted a couple of centuries before the arrival of the conquistadors, although the region continued to be inhabited by Caxcan groups.

The region was known as Xochipillan, or the place of the flowers, possibly because of its fertile soil. Around 1530 Cristóbal de Oñate founded the modern town of Juchipila close to a settlement known as Tlatlan or Tlaltan. The Caxcan were tired of the abuses of the Spanish and in 1541 they led an indigenous rebellion which threatened the conquest of New Spain. The episode ended in the famous battle of Cerro del Mixton, which the Spanish won.

There has been relatively little research into the Cerro de las Ventanas. One of the few exceptions was the photographic work of the Czech anthropologist Aleš Hrdlička, who documented the site’s emblematic remains in 1902, without excavating them. Many decades later, between 1988 and 1991, the U.S. archeologist Elizabeth Mozzillo carried out surveys and excavations which included taking samples for radiocarbon dating, which gave results from between the years 20 to 1405 AD.

A complex of terraces to the east of the site was explored between 2002 and 2006, as well as topographical surveys of the highest part of the Acropolis. They were directed by Dr. Nicolás Caretta. Subsequently, between 2008 and 2010, the archeologist Armando Nicolau Romero undertook some research and as part of his role he carried out some minor maintenance. Later, Marco Santos Ramírez took over responsibility, partially clearing the Plaza de los Altares.

Since mid-2014 Cerro de las Ventanas has been the focus of a comprehensive research and conservation project managed by the Zacatecas office of the INAH, under the charge of the archeologists Laura Solar Valverde, Luis Martínez Méndez and Peter Jiménez Betts. Good work has also been done to make the archeological site more accessible to the public. A Visitor Services Center was designed and built as part of this project, establishing the basic infrastructure for the site’s operation and management. Currently, the site is temporarily closed.
  • Outcrops of rock with scattered carvings, as well as artificial platforms and terraces have transformed the mountainsides creating spaces suitable for siting buildings of various types.
  • The Acropolis is the architectural complex with the largest buildings in the whole site.
From the nearest main town (Juchipila), take Federal Highway 54 in a southerly direction. Carry on for five miles as far as Cerro de las Ventanas, in the community of El Remolino. The ruin that gives its name to the site can be seen from the road.
Cerro de TrincherasTwelve centuries ago, a mountain enabled a thousand farmers, craftsmen and leaders to establish a city in the Sonora desert. They levelled out more than 900 hillside terraces, raised walls of river stones, built a plaza on the peak and marked out a shell form. Its traces still remain.The American continent’s first settlers arrived to the modern-day territory of Sonora 13,000 years ago. When the Sonora desert formed 10,000 years ago, these hunters and gatherers adapted to its conditions and enriched their diet with the desert plants. The region’s natural richness allowed this archaic way of life to endure for several millennia.

Approximately 3,500 years ago, the settlers learned how to cultivate maize and used canals for irrigation. The care required for farming led to the emergence of the first permanent settlements or villages. These had common cultural characteristics such as the production of purple-on-red pottery, the construction of walls or “pens” on the peak of some hills and building terraces or “trenches” on the hillsides. As a result, these villages are known as belonging to the “Trenchiras” tradition.

Seven hundred years ago, the site became the governing center of the farming villages scattered around the valleys of the Magdalena, Altar and Concepción rivers. It was home to a population of more than 1,000 inhabitants from 1300 to 1450. When controlling the valleys from this town became impossible, the communities went back to living in isolated villages.

In this pre-Hispanic settlement, stone-walled terraces were built. They were used to build houses and shelters by the ancient inhabitants, where they carried out all of their daily activities. They also had areas dedicated to certain activities. Some were used for public or communal ceremonies and others for private rituals, exclusively for certain groups or the head family.
  • The name of this settlement is attributed to Captain Mateo Manje, who accompanied Father Francisco Kino to the Magdalena valley. Upon seeing the terraces, the soldier observed that they looked like military trenches.
Cerro la Campana (Huijazoo)An ancient Zapotec city whose Tomb 5 contained a plethora of symbols and beautiful figures, considered one of the finest examples of funerary art in ancient Mexico. It has a rich array of religious buildings from 300 and 800 AD when the city was flourishing.The Cerro de la Campana archeological site is in the far north of the Etla valley, barely 20 miles from Oaxaca City. The site is within the bounds of the municipality of Santiago Suchilquitongo, which is next to the municipality of Huitzo. The full area of the site covers 235 acres, which includes modifications to the rocky landscape including embankments and terraces used for dwellings.

For a few hundred years this civic and administrative center was the dominant force holding together the Zapotec towns in the north of the Etla valley. The architectural remains visible today come from the period 650 to 700 AD when the settlement was the seat of government for the Zapotecs of the valley. Its notable features are its strategic position and the aesthetic quality of the figures in Tomb 5, which were found during the 1985 excavations. The city was abandoned around 800 for reasons that are still not understood.

As mentioned above, the archeological excavations in 1985 resulted in the discovery of Tomb 5. This burial of nearly 60 people includes wall paintings, two stucco masks of the lineage of the jaguar, ten doorposts with pairs of people dressed with jaguar-man lineage headpieces, place name and calendar glyphs as well as glyphs of owls, bats, jaguars and architectural features made using the best building technology of the period. The ceramics associated with the burial can be dated alongside Monte Alban period III, which was around 550.

The highest part of the land is in the central sector which consists of at least three large platforms, two of which are aligned east-west with another that spreads out organically in a northward direction from the monument area. The central sector consists essentially of seven major monuments, distributed on two platforms, the first of which supports Building 1, the site of the famous Tomb 5.
ChacchobénThe most notable Maya city in the lake zone of present-day Quintana Roo. The early settlements of 300 AD gave way to imposing constructions visible to this day, indicating a second occupation, in the 17th century. A great number of ‘portrait’ incense burners were salvaged from the peak.

The urban footprint evident from the buildings was established around 250 AD. The full area of the town was 173 acres, and it was populated and active for five centuries. Temples, civic and ceremonial buildings, dwellings and stelae display a mixture of Petén, Rio Bec and Chenes styles.

The Acropolis was the most important building of Chacchoben with a semi-square base measuring 374 by 354 feet with a height of between 26 and 43 feet. On the upper part there are five square plinths and two pyramids.

Building 1 has sides measuring ten feet with a height of 65 feet. It faces to the west and was built in three stages from the Early Classic to the Late Postclassic. It consists of six stepped sections, with a 36 foot wide central stairway and a platform which surrounds the base of the building.

Building 2 is a 26-foot-wide rectangular construction with three stepped sections, a 16-foot staircase flanked by low walls and a small temple with a rectangular floor plan and a low altar.

The Templo Adosado ("Attached Temple") and Las Vías ("The Roads") complex are other important buildings at Chacchoben. The Attached Temple is built onto a square platform with sides measuring 36 feet, on an east-west axis. The facade faces west and access is via a staircase with nine steps. The Temple has a door on each of the four walls. The east wall was closed up after construction while the north and south are not used for accessing the building. The Las Vías complex has three tiers of low stonework platforms, which are built parallel to each other.

The enormous collection of incense holder fragments from this site is a token of its regional importance, and even after virtual abandonment, between 1200 and 1450 it rose again as a center of worship and pilgrimage.

The INAH began its investigation of the site in 1994 and since then the Gran Basamento ("Great Plinth"), the Las Vías complex and Group II, which contains the tallest building of the site, have been conserved and consolidated. The buildings that have been investigated to date are very similar in style to sites in Guatemala and northern Belize. The architectural style is known as Petén style and is mainly characterized by the presence of rounded corners and recessed panels, wall surfaces with plinths, grooves and sloped aprons, sometimes with ornamental stucco figures in the shape of masks placed directly on top of the stone cladding, and flanking stairways which date to earlier periods.

  • It was established 2,300 years ago as a collection of small villages on lakeshores in the south of present-day Quintana Roo.
  • The area of the town covered 173 acres and people occupied the site over a period of 500 years.
  • A huge number of incense burners have been found from the final period of occupation.
ChacmultúnIn Chacmultún, the stone slabs contain microorganisms, which when exposed to air and water acquire a reddish hue. This colors the Mayan temples, built in the exquisite Puuc style and carved like filigree. The site flourished between 800 and 1000 AD and was a crucial link between neighboring cities.The pre-Hispanic settlement of Chacmultun, meaning red stone hill in Maya, is close to the eastern end of the Puuc archeological region in the north of Yucatan. The site occupies a valley on the edge of the Bolonchen district 81 miles south of Merida and 4 miles southwest of Tekax.

The center of Chacmultun is defined by three complexes of ancient buildings described as "palaces," which sit on hills slightly less than 100 feet high. These run alongside the kancabal, or area of red stone, which is just over 1,000 yards in length from east to west and nearly 400 yards wide from north to south. This central area has a group of structures including a ballcourt, which is rare because courts of this type are hardly ever found in Puuc sites. This group of constructions has the largest dimensions and also contains a great variety of architectural icons, including the well-known humanist murals.

Since the site is in a forested region, it has been established that Chacmultun developed and grew through the exploitation of natural resources which were used in the palaces for the production of amate paper and other textile products. It has also been considered that these buildings could have functioned as warehouses for forest products gathered in the region, and which were then redistributed for consumption.

The first settlements related to this site date to the Preclassic period (1900-1200 BC) and were small hamlets which depended on seasonal streams and natural water deposits which appeared in the district. This wealth of water resources, soon complemented by chultuns or cisterns and other storage and irrigation works, allied with population growth, led to more intensive agriculture and complex social organization. During the Postclassic (900-1521) Chacmultun was the most important city in the eastern Puuc region on account of the substantial movement of tradable goods, although it was left uninhabited in 1500.

It was discovered in 1875 by the Austrian Teobert Maler, a former captain of Emperor Maximilian. He was a great explorer and an early photographer of Mayan ruins, accumulating an extraordinary photographic collection which is today divided between Mexico, the United States and Europe. Over the years he became an expert in the Mayan world.

Excavations led by the INAH began in 1970 and uncovered fine constructions in the best Puuc style with a ballcourt and even the remnants of mural paintings. These highlights and other features can be seen in the four areas of the ancient city known as Cabalpak (sunken terrace), Xetpool (severed head), the central area and Chacmultun itself.
  • Chacmultun covers an area of 250 acres.
  • Many buildings were constructed on plinths up to 26 feet high, hence their monumental size.
From the city of Merida, take federal highway 180 towards Tekax. From there take the road to Canek and Kancab. The site is two kilometers further on.
ChakanbakánA large and prosperous Maya city inhabited from 300 BC, with imposing plazas and monuments, one of which displays stucco facade masks of a god in the shape of a jaguar, plus some surprising sculptures reminiscent of the Olmecs.The Mayan city of Chakanbakan is located in the lower Peten lakes area, in the region characterized by the Río Bec architectural style. This pre-Hispanic settlement belonged to a series of cities in the lower Peten with common characteristics. The surrounding area was rich in natural resources, enabling the inhabitants to build a protected city and to develop its culture in comfort. During the Late Preclassic Chakanbakan appears to have exercised social, political and economic control of the region.

The importance of the city grew to the extent that it managed to survive and experience a resurgence during the Classic period, when the dimensions of the traditional structures of the period were added to. Its dominant role over a small territory and the presence of raw materials allowed it to become an important producer and exporter of flint tools and other goods. Nevertheless it failed to retain its independence, since the region’s social, political and economic power was focused relatively nearby in the city of Calakmul. Even so it created trading links outside its region with cultures at the heart of the Central Highlands. Despite the importance it acquired, the effects of the Mayan collapse inexorably led it to the same fate, and the city was inexplicably abandoned.

During the Postclassic it continued to attract settlers from the region and the small temple on the top of the pyramid, known as a "nohochbalam," continued as a site of rituals where offerings were left to the deities. It had already been abandoned by the arrival of the European conquistadors and never recovered, even in the following centuries when the "cehaches," or indigenous people who remained free from the control of the conquistadors, dominated the region.

The houses were constructed from bahareque (sticks with a mud covering) and thatched with guano palm, and they must have been clustered close to the civic-religious center where the largest buildings stood. The construction of various structures began in the civic-religious center when the Late Preclassic was in full swing from 50 BC to 300 AD. The first pyramidal temple was built and subsequently renovated more than once in the same period and the following one. In one of these constructions the priests ordered 14 sculptures to be made representing the jaguar on both sides of a flight of steps on the facade of the sections. The facial features of these enormous feline stucco masks are still reminiscent of certain traits of the Olmecs, ancestors of the Maya.

During the Proto-Classic (50 BC - 250 AD) there was a significant increase in population density and at the same time in city planning. Although it was fully determined in the previous period, the new buildings began to mark out the future of an important medium-sized city. By that time, the culture had reached its apogee. The settlement appears to have achieved its maximum size and peak of development in the Early Classic (250 - 600 AD), when the principal constructions were modified and new ones were built. The Acropolis was built in various sections.

The population lived from farming, hunting, to a small extent fishing, and from trade. The type of social, political and economic organization was a useful means of advancement for the city and the region, and also helped to maintain links with other regional and distant external cities.

The Mayan city of Chakanbakan was built in a strategic location which made it easy to repel any external attacks by land or water. The features of the terrain are exceptional, the layout of the central sector, which was built on the higher ground, and the erection of extraordinarily large structures enabled the populace to remain safe from flooding and hurricanes.
  • The inhabitants of Chakanbakan transformed nature for their benefit. The abundance of local resources enabled extraordinary cultural development, turning this Mayan city into an important producer and exporter of working tools and other products.
  • The civic-religious center was the site of the city’s most important structures.
  • Almost entirely surrounded by the Om lake, it covers an area of approximately 270 acres on a raised peninsula.
  • The jaguar was a sacred animal, worshipped by many Mesoamerican peoples.
  • The great stucco masks bear helments with sloped bars on both sides of the cheeks, making them reminiscent of the colossal Olmec heads.
From the city of Chetumal, take the Chetumal-Escárcega federal highway. At km 81 take the exit for Caobas and the entrance to the site is 5 km further on.
ChalcatzingoAn imposing city with a long history before our era, it rises from the Altiplano (high plateau), with outstanding reliefs, clearly influenced by the Olmecs from the distant Gulf coast. The buildings display a strength that has outlived the centuries.Chalcatzingo lies in a truly extraordinary natural setting in the east of the state of Morelos, as the pre-Hispanic site was settled on the slopes of two rocky massifs known as Cerro Delgado and Cerro Ancho (or Chalcatzingo) overlooking the valley below. As the renowned anthropologist Carlos Barreto Mark wrote, this valley was occupied by the 14 tribes of the Tlalnahua before the arrival of the Spanish.

It is considered one of the most significant archeological zones on the Central Mexican Plateau, as its cultural relics are closely linked to interaction with the Olmec culture between the Gulf coast and the center of Mexico. The iconographic features of the Olmecs preserved at Chalcatzingo show the high level of social, political, commercial, artistic and religious development achieved by that culture during the Middle Preclassic.

Human occupation of Chalcatzingo began in prehistoric times, as shown by cave paintings dating back to 3,000 BC in the rocky shelters of Cerro Delgado, and continued until colonial settlement of the current town of the same name. This indicates continual habitation of the space around the hills by innumerable human groups of diverse ideologies and even ethnicity, who have occupied this place for 5,000 years, always making it their home and hub of their society, although it is important to note that its apogee came in the Preclassic period.

To summarize, Chalcatzingo was a very important civic-ceremonial center in the east of the Valley of Morelos during the Middle Preclassic period (1200-400 BC). The decision of its ancient inhabitants to build a pre-Hispanic city at the feet of Cerro Delgado and Cerro Ancho arose from a symbolism they ascribed to the rocky massifs as sacred mountains within the Mesoamerican worldview. It is therefore likely that this was the deciding factor in considering it a suitable place to settle.
  • Different periods of occupation converge in the architectural complex of Chalcatzingo, from a Preclassic platform to an almost circular building belonging to the Early Postclassic.
Chiapa de CorzoIn the remote past this was an agricultural village on the banks of the river Grijalva and it became the most important ceremonial center of the Mixe-Zoque people. Its terraces, plazas and constructions, as well as the multitude of tombs with offerings and the ornamentation of the temples decorated with fine limestone, show its importance.Chiapa de Corzo was one of the main pre-Hispanic settlements of the Chiapas Central Depression. Its location on the right side of the River Grijalva, on fertile alluvial terraces and at a crossing of important roads, allowed it to prosper and control trade from the Gulf coast to the Chiapas highlands.

The first occupation of the site was around 1250 BC, when it was a farming village, but it grew until it became of the the largest settlements of the Zoque region, and a focal point of the cultural and economic subregion. In its heyday, at the start of the Common Era, the main buildings were made from well-cut stone with red painted stucco-covered facades. The inhabitants established commercial networks with central Mexico, the Gulf coast and the Guatemalan Petén, as evidenced by the raw materials and objects which came from these areas.

After the year 400 AD it lost importance when it was subjugated by the Mayan and Zapotec centers which closed the trading networks. The site was completely abandoned 250 years later and around 900 AD it was occupied once again by the Chiapanecs, a group  who arrived from somewhere to the south of the territory of Mesoamerica, speaking a language unrelated to Maya or Zoque, and who lived there until well into the colonial period.

The Chiapanecs made the most of the strategic location of Chiapa de Corzo to found their political capital, called Nandalumí or Napiniaca, very close to the remains of the previous culture, and when the Spanish arrived this was the largest and most important settlement in the region. Today what remains of the Zoque and Chiapanec structures are among the foundations of colonial and modern buildings.

At its peak, the center of the ancient Zoque settlement of Chiapa de Corzo had more than 200 buildings including temples, platforms and houses which were arranged around plazas and patios. Zoque buildings were erected on platforms, which had a general T-shaped plan, and were decorated with moldings which gave the bases a particular profile, known as “cabin profile.” The principal façades of the platforms have wide stairways with double balustrades, a Zoque architectural feature very typical of the place.

Between the structures which may be visited today are those which make up the most ancient and important part of Chiapa de Corzo, Buildings 1, 5, 7 and 32, where the Zoque carried out ritual and administrative activities.

Of these 1 and 7 functioned as temples with several rooms and porticoed entrances. Building 1 had an additional function, as the burial place of priests and governors, whose tombs included substantial offerings. It is thought that Building 5 could have been the governor’s house because of its numerous rooms.

Building 32 is a temple with architecture typical of Chiapa de Corzo. It is located on the northern edge of the site’s core area, which today is next to a road junction of the Chiapa de Corzo northern bypass and the Panamerican Highway, or Federal Highway 92.

Mounds 11 and 12, which are not open to the public, are, together with Mound 13 and Building 7, the most ancient parts of the monument zone of Chiapa de Corzo. Some researchers propose that these two mounds form part of a building group dedicated to astronomy, since its configuration is very similar to the so-called E Complex of the Maya: two buildings from which solar measurements were undertaken.

The significance of this complex at Chiapa de Corzo is demonstrated by the burials and the set of artifacts recently discovered there. For example, rich offerings and burials of elite personages were found there between 2008 and 2010. Among the offerings found inside and at the foot of these mounds were groups of axes and fine Olmec-style ceramics, which are evidence of contact with peoples from the Gulf coast. The most important burial was inside Mound 11 where one of the place’s first governors was buried between 700 and 500 BC, accompanied by a lower-ranking boy and a woman. The personal adornment of this governor included more than 1,000 pieces of jade.
  • The pottery finds here lead experts to believe that this site had close ties with many different communities from the coasts of Chiapas and Guatemala.
  • In the Preclassic period, ceramics often resembled large "tecomates" (vessels made from gourds and calabashes), spherical in form with a narrow mouth, with incised decorations.
  • Flat-bottomed pots and straight and sloping walls were also commonly used.
  • Vessels were found from Usulután in El Salvador and from Guatemala.


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