A country rich in history and ancient civilisations, visiting Mexico’s Mayan ruins is a great way to learn more about the country’s extraordinary past.
The main places of interest are in the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Mexico City. Needless to say, these places get very busy, very quickly, so go early, wear suitable walking shoes, because there’s a lot of exploring to do.
What’s more, Mexico isn’t known as one of the best holiday destinations for nothing. The country has plenty more to offer; its Mayan ruins are just one of its many perks.
While you may not be familiar with the name, you’ll probably be familiar with the picture. Chichén Itzá is the most famous of all the Mayan sites and is located in the Yucatan state. It was one of the largest Mayan cities, and is one of the country’s most visited archaeological sites.
The buildings of Chichén Itzá are grouped in a series of architectonic sets. The most popular are the Great North Platform and the Osario Group. These include the monuments of El Castillo, the Great Ball Court and the Osario pyramid.
Every evening, there’s a light and sound show that gives guests a glimpse of ancient Mayan life. This should be included in your entrance ticket, but check on arrival or with your tour guide.
A city located in the sub-valley of the Valley of Mexico, Teotihuacán was the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas. It’s home to the grand Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987.
The Avenue of the Dead is the heart of the action in Teotihuacán where you can wander and gaze at all the archeological offerings.
Along with the Pyramid of the Sun (the 3rd largest in the world), there’s also a citadel, where you’ll come across the ruined Temple of the Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl and its impressive serpent carvings.
The site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city, you can find the Tulum ruins in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico. It was one of the last cities built by the Mayans, and served as a major port for the city of Coba. That said, expect beautiful rugged coastlines, and don’t forget to visit the local beaches too.
The 3 major sites of interest are El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. The Temple of the Frescoes is a must-see and includes a lower gallery and a smaller second story gallery.
Given its proximity to the popular tourist spots of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, arranging a trip to Tulum is easy, and not too far. However, to avoid the mass crowds, and the strong sun, it’s better to go as early as possible.
In the state of Campeche, and deep in the heart of its jungle, lies the Mayan city of Calakmul. Calakmul was a major Maya power and one of the largest and most powerful cities in the Mayan lowlands.
With over 6,700 ancient structures identified at Calakmul, it’s safe to say, you’ll be here for a while! The largest is the great pyramid at the site called Structure 1, which stands at 160ft tall. Structure 2 is over 148ft high, making it one of the tallest of the Maya pyramids.
Look out for all 117 of the sensational Mayan stelae — monuments that were fashioned by the Maya civilisation of ancient Mesoamerica.
Produced in soft limestone, many of the carved stelae have eroded, but are still worth paying a visit.