Ancient pyramids found in many parts of the world have intrigued observers for centuries. Find a brief introduction to the most famous pyramids in Mexico.
Ancient pyramids found in many parts of the world have intrigued observers for centuries. China, Russia, Guatemala, Egypt, Mexico and many other countries all have them. Civilizations in these places have emerged, flourished and disappeared with the mysterious presence of pyramids quietly remaining in the background, keeping secrets of a long forgotten past. The following is a brief introduction to some of the most famous ancient pyramids in Mexico.
The Pyramid of the Magician
The pyramid of the magician at the Mayan archeological site Uxmal (in Yucatan state) is a 115 feet tall Mayan masterpiece. Its unusual rounded edges, dizzyingly steep sides, richly decorated pyramid-top temple structures and surrounding ancient city ruins, make visiting this Mayan pyramid a unique experience. Legend has it that a magician god single handedly built the massive structure in one night. Archeological evidence however suggests that construction began in the 6th century with additional structures added over the next 400 years. It is believed that classes may have been given here on the healing arts, math, astronomy and religion.
The Kukulkan Pyramid
The Kukulkan pyramid at Chichen-Itza, also in Yucatan state, demonstrates the vast knowledge that ancient Mayans possessed in the astronomical sciences and architectural arts. The sum of the 91 steps of all four pyramid sides equals 364. Adding the top platform as an extra step makes each step representative of a day of the year. You can only witness the building’s most remarkable secret on the day of the spring or fall equinox, when the buildings careful placement and design present viewers with an ingenious show of shadow play; the evening sun highlights a staircase edge on the shaded side of the pyramid which connects with a snake head carving at the base of the stairs. As the sun lowers, its shine on the stone looks like a snake slithering down the pyramid steps.
The Temple of Inscriptions
The temple of Inscriptions at Palenque (Chiapas state) sits nestled in the southern Mexican jungle amongst dense green foliage and wonderful sounds of wildlife and cascading rivers. This Mayan pyramid houses the funeral crypt of the Mayan ruler Hanab-Pakal. The crypt, along with the remains of the ruler and ancient burial treasures were discovered in 1948 at the bottom of a long secret stairway. Inner chambers display glyphs that record the ruler’s ancestral lineage.
The Pyramid of the Sun
Aztecs discovered the abandoned ruins of the city of Teotihuacan around the 13th century. So impressed by the seemingly divine design of monuments left by unknown ancients, the Aztecs gave the site its name, meaning “place of the gods”. Here, just 31 miles from Mexico City, we find the pyramid of the sun, the third largest pyramid in the world. Thousands of visitors flock to the site each year, especially on the vernal equinox, to climb to the top of the pyramid. Many believe that the structure channels special power from the sun on the day of the equinox, and that these powers have a positive energizing effect on people.
The Templo Mayor
Visitors can see what’s left of the ruins of the great Aztec templo mayor in Mexico City. In 1521, Spanish conquistadors under Hernan Cortes destroyed most of it along with most of the flourishing Aztec city of Tenochtitlan itself, the capital of the Aztec empire. They then built the Spanish colonial city of Mexico on top of the destroyed city. The remains of the templo mayor remained hidden for centuries until Mexico City telephone workers accidently discovered them in 1978 while carrying out underground cable work.
These pyramids’ towering presence offer curious clues and raise questions about the ancient world. Why did so many different generations and civilizations build these structures? Some observers insist that intriguing structural similarities in Egyptian and Mexican pyramids, such as their astronomical alignment, proves an advanced technological purpose for the buildings that connected distant civilizations. You’ll have to visit the pyramids for yourself to discover the historically universal appeal of these massive monuments.