A Prehispanic Ceremonial Site in Morelos
DINKtravelers are passionate about the combination between landscapes in which the horizon lies ahead like a great canvass and settings in which the past has stood the test of time. This is the mélange that defines Xochicalco, an archaeological site located in Morelos, Mexico.
History of Xochicalco
Its name comes from the nahuatl language and means “at the site of the house of flowers”, and precisely, it’s home to a rich vegetation crowned by pyramidal structures that are magnificently preserved. When Xochicalco was founded, the Teotihuacan culture had fallen and the Mayan cities of central and southern Mexico had been abandoned. Thus, the diverse events that took place in the Mesoamerican region led to the founding of Xochicalco, a site that embraced both the Teotihuacan and Mayan influences.
Xochicalco World Heritage
When you visit this archaeological site that the UNESCO declared World Heritage in 1999, you’ll be able to find popular symbols of both cultures; for example, the reliefs of feathered snakes –the animal that represents the god Quetzalcoatl/Kukulcan and that can be found in the namesake temple.
Attractions in Xochicalco
Even though you won’t want to move your eyes away from that landscape –the site was built on a 130 meter-tall mountain top–, we recommend daring to visit a dark yet impressive structure. That’s because one of the most interesting secrets of Xochicalco is the astronomic observatory that was built inside a cave. There, from April to August the sun comes in through a narrow vertical opening and helps define the agricultural cycles.
If you enjoy spa treatments, you’ll love to learn that the Xochicalcas had a complex steam baths system known as temazcales. Also, if you like sports, you’ll be thrilled when you visit the Ballgame facilities –imagine a sport similar to soccer in which in order to score the players had to hit a leather ball with their hips and make it go through rings embedded on both sides of the field.
By the way, Xochicalco is also a very interesting place for people who are interested in engineering. It turns out that its inhabitants created a complex network of water distribution and storage whose main structures are still visible in the cistern area.
And because there’s something for everyone at Xochicalco, those who are concerned about sustainability will enjoy visiting the On Site Museum. It was the first ecological museum in the world (1993) and the project was developed by Rolando Dada y Lemus, a Mexican architect. Incredibly, the museum has a water catchment system, thermal rotating ventilators and 100% natural illumination through zenith lighting domes.
Ask about the after-dark guided tours they have in Xochicalco during certain seasons or enjoy it by day and soak up the wonders of the past.