Historic Sites in Mexico

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There's a host of top Historic Sites in Mexico to visit and among the very best are Chichen Itza, Teotihuacan and Tulum. Other popular sites tend to include Tenochtitlan, Castillo de Chapultepec and Templo Mayor.

We’ve put together an experts guide to Mexican cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in Mexico, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

What are the best Historic Sites in Mexico?

1. Chichen Itza

Stunningly well-preserved and imposingly beautiful, Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most impressive historical sites. A UNESCO World Heritage site based in the forests of the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is actually made up of two cities built by two peoples, the Mayas and the Toltecs.

The site is made up of several surviving buildings including a circular observatory known as El Caracol, the Warriors’ Temple and El Castillo. Accounts vary as to the date of the first settlement at Chichen Itza, placing it between the 6th and 9th century AD when the Mayas built the original city including “The Building of the Nuns” and a church.

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2. Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was a holy Mesoamerican city built in around 400 BC in what is now Mexico and forms one of the country’s oldest archeological sites. Characterised by looming stepped pyramids, one of the most impressive aspects of Teotihuacan is the sheer size of these monuments, including the Pyramid of the Sun, which measures 225 by 222 metres at its base, rising 75 metres high.

Visitors to Teotihuacan can maneuver their way through the city via its original streets, such as Avenue of the Dead, which divided the city into quarters, although take note that the site is absolutely enormous. Today, Teotihuacan is one of the most popular tourist sites in Mexico and includes numerous museums, including the Museo del Sitio where visitors can see various artefacts from the site.

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3. Tulum

Tulum is a Maya site in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region dating back to between the 13th and 16th centuries. At its peak, Tulum was quite a thriving walled city.

Whilst relatively modest in comparison to, say Chichen Itza, Tulum does feature some interesting and quite well preserved ruins, including its castle, city walls and temples. One of the highlights at Tulum is its Temple of the Frescoes, with some original frescoes inside it. However, the real beauty of Tulum is its shimmering beachside location.

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4. Tenochtitlan

Tenochtitlan was established on an island in Lake Texcoco in 1325 AD as the capital city of the Aztecs and, in its final and most prosperous days, was ruled by Motecuhzoma II, also known as Montezuma. The remnants of Tenochtitlan are hard to find as they have been consumed by the development of modern Mexico City. 

Those sites which have been excavated, including five temples of which Templo Mayor is one, are protected on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, however there is no single Aztec site to visit. One of the most popular Tenochtitlan sites is Xochimilco. This is more of a beautiful park rather than an archaeological ruin, but features waterways that ran from the Aztec era as well as some flower gardens from that time. Alternatively, see the Templo Mayor entry for a more traditional site.

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5. Castillo de Chapultepec

Chapultepec Castle is an eighteenth century building in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park now containing Mexico’s National History Museum.

Within its twelve halls, Mexico’s National History Museum charts the country’s diverse history, from the Pre-Hispanic era through to Spanish colonialism, Mexico’s revolution and its independence. Some of the National History Museum’s most significant exhibitions include the sword wielded by independence fighter José María Morelos in the Siege of Cuautla in 1812 as well as several murals depicting famous battles.

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6. Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor was a temple in the capital city of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, in what is now Mexico City. In fact, much of Mexico City was built over Tenochtitlan, but some original sites remain, including the Great Temple, known as Templo Mayor, which was the most important building in the city. Now a popular tourist site, the site contains a museum filled with Aztec artefacts uncovered during the excavation.

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7. San Augustin

The Temple of Saint Augustin, known as Templo y Ex-Convento de San Agustin, is a sixteenth century historic church in the village of Acolman in Mexico.

Now a museum featuring paintings and artifacts, this is a good excursion if you’re visiting the nearby site of Teotihuacan.

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8. Uxmal

Uxmal is an archaeological site in Mexico which houses the ruins of a Maya town thought to have been inhabited as early as 800BC. Having said this, most of the buildings and structures seen at Uxmal today were constructed in between around 700AD to 1000AD.

Uxmal has a series of ceremonial pyramids the most celebrated of which is the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, an impressive 100-foot high monument dating back to the Late Classic Period. Beyond this well-known monument, Uxmal has several other impressive structures and also has a small museum. Organised tours from Merida can last a whole day and include sites such as Kabah. Audio guides are available in several languages for an added fee.

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9. El Tepozteco

El Tepozteco is an ancient Aztec temple hidden deep in the western part of Tepoztlan National Park, Mexico. El Tepozteco is a hilltop shrine to the Aztec deity Tepoztecatl made up of two rooms.

Whilst not the most impressive site in Mexico by a long haul, it is a great stop on a hike through the park. Getting to El Tepozteco can be tricky and involves some hiking, although the scenery is beautiful.

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10. Mexico National Museum of Anthropology

The Mexico National Museum of Anthropology is a world renowned museum with a large array of archaeological and ethnographic exhibitions, mostly relating to the pre-Hispanic era. 

The Museum of Anthropology takes visitors through Mexico’s historic cultures, including the Toltecs, the Maya and the Aztecs. The museum is quite large and too much to take in during the course of a single visit, but it is well organized, allowing history enthusiasts to explore it according to eras. Guided tours also offer a great way to explore the museum and are offered in Spanish, English and French.

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Full list of Historic Sites in Mexico

Beyond the most famous Mexican cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, there’s many similar places to visit, including San Augustin, Uxmal and El Tepozteco to name but a few. We’re constantly expanding this list of Historic Sites in Mexico and you can view the current selection below.

Acatitlan

The pyramid of Acatitlan is an impressive Mesoamerican archaeological site in the modern town of Santa Cecilia on the outskirts of Mexico City.

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Alhondiga de Granaditas

Alhondiga de Granaditas was the site of a rebel attack against the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence.

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Angostura Battlefield

Angostura Battlefield marks the location of an important clash in the Mexican-American War, the Battle of Buena Vista.

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Calakmul

Calakmul is a remote and incredible Maya site in Campeche, Mexico, containing the remains of a vast and once-powerful ancient city.

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Calixtlahuaca

Calixtlahuaca is an Aztec archaeological site near Toluca in Mexico.

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Chacchoben

Chacchoben is a Maya site in Mexico housing some impressive pyramid temples.

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Cobá

Cobá is an important and vast archaeological Maya site in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region.

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Dzibilchaltun

Dzibilchaltun in Mexico is an archaeological site housing the ruins of a Maya settlement.

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Ek Balam

Ek Balam is a Maya site on the Yucatan Peninsula with some impressive ruins.

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El Tajin

El Tajin in Mexico was a city of the Totonac people and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Ex-Convent de Churubusco

Ex-Convent de Churubusco was the site of a Mexican defeat in the Mexican-American War and now houses Mexico City’s National Museum of the Interventions.

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Fort Loreto

Fort Loreto is an eighteenth century fortress and one of the sites where the famous Battle of Puebla was fought.

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Kabah

The ruins of Kabah are those of a Maya settlement in Yucatan, Mexico.

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Labna

Labna is a Maya site in Yucatan State in Mexico.

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Merida Cathedral

Merida Cathedral in Mexico is the oldest cathedral on the continent.

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Mitla

Mitla was a Zapotec religious centre later taken over by the Mixtecs in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Monte Alban

Monte Alban is a remarkable UNESCO listed pre-Columbian site in Mexico.

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Museo Casa de Hidalgo

This museum in the town of Dolores Hidalgo is the former house of the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the father of the Independence movement in Mexico.

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Museo Regional de Oaxaca

Museo Regional de Oaxaca houses many of the pre-Columbian finds from nearby Monte Alban.

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Palenque

Palenque in Mexico is a UNESCO listed Maya archaeological site of a city which thrived between 500 and 700 AD.

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Piramide de Cuicuilco

Cuicuilco is a Mesoamerican archeological site in Mexico City, believed to have been a large, ceremonial city that existed prior to the foundation of Teotihuacan.

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San Juan de Ulua

San Juan de Ulua is a sixteenth century Spanish fort which defended the port of Veracruz in Mexico.

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Sayil

Sayil in Mexico houses the ruins of a small Maya settlement built in the Puuc style.

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Tenayuca

The site of Tenayuca is nestled right in the heart of the modern municipality of Tlalnepantla de Baz in Greater Mexico City and consists of a vast Mesoamerican pyramid structure.

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The National Palace of Mexico

The National Palace of Mexico is an important landmark representing Mexico’s independence.

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Xcaret

Xcaret houses the ruins of a Maya city which reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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Xlapak

Xlapak is a small archaeological site in Mexico’s Yucatan region.

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Xochicalco

Xochicalco is an important pre-Columbian site in Mexico and a World Heritage site.

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Yagul

Yagul was a fortified Zapotec settlement in Oaxaca in Mexico.

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Yaxchilan

Hidden away far from the husstle and busstle of the main tourist track is the archeaological site of Yaxchilan, containing the ruins of this once-powerful Maya city.

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Our database of Historic Sites in Mexico is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Mexican cultural locations, landmarks and monuments, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.