When most people take a vacation in Mexico, the tend to not stray far away from their (hotels). While the beaches and resorts offer visitors some much-needed rest and relaxation, Mexico still offers interesting tourist attractions and landmarks. The country has a rich culture and history, and those looking to get off the beaten path can go on many adventures. Here, you’ll find the top ten landmarks in Mexico. Take time out of your vacation to visit one and you’ll be sure to have a lot of fun!
Historically, Acapulco served as a major shipping port for Spain. Today, this locale is famous for its beaches, resorts, and hotels. Full of glamor, this natural landmark with famously white, sandy beaches is a hot spot for the privileged and the wealthy. Since the 1950s, it’s been a favorite for Hollywood stars.
Located near the border of Guatemala and Belize, Calakmul is a famous Mayan ruin tucked away in the hot jungle. For more than 12 centuries, the city played an important part of the history of this region. It was the home of what has been called the “Snake Kingdom” and housed a population of an estimated 50,000 people. Rediscovered as late as 1931, it’s one of the largest Mayan cities ever discovered, with its main pyramid reaching a height of 148 feet. It also happens to be a world heritage site, which is surrounded by a biosphere reserve.
Further north in the Yucatan, within reach of those on vacation at the crystal beaches of Cancun, is Chichen Itza. It’s the home to one of the most famous and recognizable structures in the world: the Kukulkan Pyramid. Also a world heritage site, this is a very popular Mayan destination for tourists, with more than a million people visiting it every year, according to the Mexican government. This was a sacred urban center of the Mayan empire from 600 to 1200 AD and was created to worship the god Kukulkan.
Skip over to the west side of the country and you’ll be able to see a natural landmark in the Chihuahua desert. It’s called the Copper Canyon, or Barranca del Cobre, and it’s been carved out by six rivers over centuries. Portions of this vast landscape are deeper than the Grand Canyon. Now, the favorite way to view the canyon is while on the famous train, Ferrocarril Barrancas del Cobre.
Another world heritage site, Mitla is an archeological site located in the Oaxaca valley. It was important to the Zapotec culture and dates to about two to three centuries before the Spanish arrived. What makes it famous is the geometric designs and finely cut stonework on its panels, walls, and tombs. Near Mitla are the famous prehistoric caves of Yagul, which offer even more historical wonders.
Palenque is yet another Mayan city-state and was flourishing around 500 to 700 AD. Though it’s much smaller than Chichen Itza, the stonework often features more elegant craftsmanship and more detailed historical notes. It has been absorbed by the jungle like many other Mayan sites, and some estimate that only 10 percent of the overall city has been explored. One of the most famous sites there is the palace, which houses an observation tower where it is believed the ruling class and priests studied astronomy and astrology.
San Miguel de Allende
This fortified town in the center of Mexico brings a bit of classical European flavor to your trip. It houses many Christian buildings and churches built with both neoclassical and Baroque architectural design (from the 16th to 18th centuries). It’s a charming city and a favorite of American expatriates, with colorful artwork and a welcoming atmosphere. Artists often fall in love with San Miguel de Allende.
Further south, there’s another European-style city in the center of Mexico. This one is called Taxco de Alarcon (or simply Taxco). The city is famous for its silver mining, and tourists often love to buy jewelry there. It’s also famous for its cobbled streets and beautiful plazas along with another world heritage site, the Church of Santa Prisca.
Just 30 miles outside of Mexico City is the home of some of the largest pyramids in the ancient world. It’s a fascinating, awe-dropping find that puzzles archeologists even to this day. The astrological alignments, blood rituals, and cultural significance at the site are still yet to be understood. After centuries of abandonment, the Aztecs happened across this site. There are three pyramids along the famous Avenue of the Dead: the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. However, there was more to this ancient city than the pyramids; Teotihuacan had population of an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 citizens.
Contemporary with Palenque, Uxmal was an ancient Mayan city located in the Puuc region. Its smooth surfaces are unique compared to the other Maya cities. Legend has it that this site’s most famous structure, the Pyramid of the Magician (or the Soothsayer, as the Spaniards called it) was built overnight by a dwarf who was hatched from an egg. The name Uxmal actually means “thrice-built” in Mayan. However, archeology has shown that the pyramid actually went through five construction stages.