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Mexico Archeological Sites
Centuries ago Mexico was home to some of the world's greatest ancient civilizations.
Many historical sites of Mayas (mostly on Yucatan peninsula), Aztecs (in central Mexico), Zapotecs (south-central Mexico on the Pacific side) or Olmecs (south-central Mexico on the Caribbean side) have been restored and are open for public. The level of restoration varies among the sites, with many remaining untouched and many are likely still undiscovered. Thanks to the many archeological sites, Mexico offers some of the best, most exciting sightseeing opportunities in the world - for many visitors they are the one and only reason to head for vacations to Mexico.
The most famous historical sites in Mexico include:
- Chichen Itza - Mayan city in the northern part of Yucatan; accessible from Merida or Cancun; a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
- Tulum - one of the few Mayan coastal cities with spectacular Caribbean views.
- Ek Balam - Mayan site located 30 km (18.6 mi) north of Valladolid in the northern part of Yucatan; the site was recently reconstructed and it's famous for its unique decorated stucco and stone carved temples.
Teotihuacan - situated in the state of Mexico, near Mexico City;
it's an enormous site containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas as well as large residential complexes; believed to have been established around 200 BC, the site is one of the most visited places in Mexico; a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
- El Tajin - located near the port and city of Veracruz, best-known monument is the Pyramid of the Niches; A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.
- Monte Alban - a Zapotec site, located in the state of Oaxaca, from about 500 BC; a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
- Palenque - Mayan city in the state of Chiapas, famous for its elaborate paintings as well as one of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings of Maya civilization.
- Uxmal - an impressive, well preserved Mayan city, founded about 500 AD, located 78 km (48 mi) south of Mérida; a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
- Guanajuato - located in the state of Guanajuato, 370 km (230 miles) northwest of Mexico City; the historic town, founded in 1554, and adjacent mines are designated a World Heritage Site.
Other than being close to the one of the most famous archeological sites of Teotihuacan (see above), Mexico City offers other attractions and activities. Try explore the following places when sightseeing in Mexico City:
- The National Anthropological Museum (Museo Nacional de Antropología) - an impressive, huge museum with astonishing exhibitions related to life of the ancient pre-Columbian civilizations.
- The Metropolitan Cathedral (La Catedral) - the biggest cathedral in Americas; construction began in the late 1500's and continued for over 300 years.
Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución) - located in the Historic Downtown (Centro Historico); a gigantic main square, one of the largest squares in the world, surrounded by historic buildings, including the City Hall and the Cathedral.
- Museum of Modern Art
- Xochimilco - popular floating gardens, located about 28 km (17 mi) south of Mexico City center; visitors can explore the site cruising its extended network of canals; a World Heritage site by UNESCO since 1987
- Chapultepec Zoo - one of the best zoos in the world to see many endangered species on display.
- Basílica de Guadalupe - located in the northernmost part of the city; it's a destination of catholic pilgrims from all over the world, especially during the yearly celebration on the 12th of December.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Mexico is a paradise for marine live lovers. The Great Maya Barrier Reef that stretches for 20 km (200 mi) from the northern tip of Yucatan peninsula southeast, reaching Honduras water, provides one of the world best diving experiences. The best diving sites are near Cozumel island which is has become the favorite resort and base for scuba diving enthusiasts. Due to relatively close distances between archeological and diving sites (like on Yucatan), vacations in Mexico can easily combine sightseeing with exploration of coral reefs.
Mexico also offers a chance for a very unique experience - Cenote cave and cavern diving on Yucatan Peninsula. Most diving centers are located along the Riviera Maya, from Cancun through Playa del Carmen to Tulum.
Mexico is a very popular destination for sun and beach lovers, especially (due to its proximity) from the United States and Canada. The season for relaxing beach vacations at resorts lasts year round. Both Caribbean and Pacific coasts have a lot to offer.
Most popular resort cities and towns include:
- Cancun - on the Yucatan Peninsula; attracts tourists by it's proximity to many archeological sites and thus many sightseeing opportunities, developed tourism infrastructure, nearby scuba diving sites, convenient transportation (airport).
- Riviera Maya - the area on the Yucatan Peninsula, between Cancun and Tulum; it's home to beautiful beaches, excellent resorts, nearby coral reefs as well as several archeological sites. Best known resorts include Tulum, Playa del Carmen (Playa), Xcaret.
- Cozumel and Isla Mujeres - two islands just off the Yucatan peninsula's eastern coast;
offer quieter and more laid back relaxation than Cancun and Playa del Carmen; Cozumel is also Mexico's top scuba diving destination.
- Los Cabos - situated at the southern tip of Baja California peninsula; the resort area stretches between two towns San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas and provides first-class beach vacation and golf facilities.
- Puerto Vallarta - resort city on the Pacific side; the second most visited resort after Cancun.
- Riviera Nayarit - stretch of coastline located north of Puerto Vallarta; tourist find here some very fine hotels and spas.
- Manzanillo - a small resort town located south of Puerto Vallarta.
- Acapulco - popular city south of Manzanillo.
- Mazatlan - north of Puerto Vallarta; offers an excellent climate, good facilities, and some of the best-value beach resorts in Mexico.
- Huatulco - stretch of Mexico's southern Pacific coastline with the center town centered on the town of La Crucecita; offers great beaches, a wide variety of accommodations, plenty of activities in the surrounding area as well as an excellent golf course open to the public.
An exciting alternative to a day spent on the beach or visiting an archeological site in Mexico could be a volcano climb. There are two volcanic peaks of Popocatépetl and Nevado de Toluca that are popular destinations.
There are 15 pictures in our Mexico gallery. Click the thumbnail to enter.
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