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Varieties of Mexican pyramids
Varieties of Mexican pyramids

The Maya, like other peoples who lived in the Mexican territories, left behind grandiose structures.


The city of El-Tahin ("City of Thunder" in the translation from the Totonac language) appeared even before the spread of the culture of Columbus and the first settlers. It developed on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where the Poza Rica de Hidalgo is now located.

Many centuries ago, in these Mexican territories, local residents built multi-tiered pyramids, totems, statues depicting the gods worshiped by the tribes. Also there were the dwellings of the Indians.

The city reached its greatest development in the IX-XII centuries, when it was inhabited by more than a thousand people, and the area was about 11 square kilometers. The city center is decorated with a palace and temple complex. Its buildings were erected in the 7th-10th centuries.

Pyramid in the city of El-Tahin

Pyramid in the city of El-Tahin. Source:

Tahin is a thundering god, to whom the El-Tahin pyramid, consisting of seven tiers, is dedicated. Its height is 25 meters. The pyramid is built of square niches, on the reliefs of which you can see images of snakes. There are 365 niches in total. Also, the pyramid has a 364-step staircase. It is decorated with mosaics.

In the 13th century, a fire destroyed the city, but the El-Tahin pyramid survived. The cultural monuments of ancient tribes were discovered only in 1875.


Pyramid in Tula

Pyramid in Tula. Source:

Tula is the capital of the ancient tribes called the Toltecs. They were representatives of one of the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Tula is located 65 kilometers from Mexico City. The Pyramid of the Morning Star is the most popular monument of that era. It consists of stone statues of warriors.

Near the entrance there are sculptures of snakes. In the 13th century, Tula was destroyed, but the figures of warlike people survived due to the fact that they were buried in the ground. Later, scientists discovered them.


Tsintsuntzana pyramids

Tsintsuntzana pyramids. Source:

In the 1200s, representatives of the Pur├ępecha people founded the city of Tsintsuntzan, which became the capital of Tarasco. The new center of the state stretched for seven kilometers.

The pur├ępecha religious buildings are platforms of ten steps. The structures were 13 meters high. Burial pyramids were located on these platforms. In 1529, the Spaniards who arrived on the territory of Tsintsuntzan destroyed the city, and on its ruins they built Catholic cathedrals for the local European administration. The pyramids have partially survived to this day.


Pyramids at Teotihuacan

Pyramids at Teotihuacan. Source:

Teotihuacan is located 50 kilometers from the capital of Mexico. The pyramids of the city are the most famous sights of the ancient tribes who inhabited the country. They are often called the structures of the Aztecs, but they are not. Only in the 15th century did the Aztecs enter the city. By the way, they gave the city a name that has passed through the centuries.

However, the first people settled in Teotihuacan in the 5th century BC. Centuries later, the city became the largest on the continent. The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon are excellent examples of the ancient architecture of those tribes. The high pyramid of the Sun - almost 65 meters - was built of clay, earth, and lined with stone. This structure is oriented towards the setting of the sun on the horizon. The pyramid of the moon is actually a miniature copy of the pyramid of the sun. Its height is 42 meters.


Buildings in Xochicalco

Buildings in Xochicalco. Source: ru.

Another pre-Columbian settlement founded the city of Xochicalco in the territories of Mexico around 200 BC. On the slopes of the hill, by the 8th century after the Nativity of Christ, the inhabitants of Xochicalco formed the center of their settlements, decorating it with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, as well as palaces and pyramids.


Pyramid in the city of Cholula

Pyramid in the city of Cholula. Source:

The ancient tribes founded the city of Cholula. Archaeologists eventually found on the site of this place a pyramid of the Toltec period - Tlachihualtepetl. The largest Mexican pyramid in terms of volume is 440 meters long and 77 meters high. Clay hides a pyramid made of bricks.In the 20th century, archaeologists were able to restore the side of the building hidden by stones and clay. They also learned where the pyramid tunnels are located, in which excursions are now taking place.

Monte Alban

Pyramid at Monte Alban

Pyramid at Monte Alban. Source:

Monte Alban is a large pre-Columbian settlement in what is now Oaxaca. The city is located near a mountain range. Founded Monte Albana in the 4th century BC. There are stepped pyramids at the top of the hill. Also now there you can see the remains of ancient buildings such as palaces and stairs. It is interesting that the walls of those monuments of ancient architecture of Mexican tribes were decorated with mosaics. The main pyramid - the one at the top of the hill - is dedicated to the rain god Kosiho.


Buildings in Palenque

Buildings in Palenque. Source:

The Maya tribes founded in 100 BC the city of Lakam-ha (Palenque was named by the Spaniards) - the largest ruins of that civilization. The city went underground due to excessive rainfall. In 1746, Spanish archaeologists discovered more than one thousand Mayan architectural monuments there. The palace on a ten-meter platform, the Temple of the Leafy Cross, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross and the Temple of the Inscriptions are the main Maya monuments that remain in the Palenque site.


Buildings in Comalkalco

Buildings in Comalkalco. Source: ru.

Another Mayan city was named Comalcalco. The westernmost temple of this popular civilization is located there. It was created from burnt bricks. The rest of the buildings, built in the period of the VIII-X centuries AD, belong to the late classical period. The most famous Mayan buildings in this city: the northern square, the "great acropolis" pyramids and the "eastern acropolis".


Pyramid at Calakmula

Pyramid at Calakmula. Source:

The state of Campeche is home to the once majestic Mayan city of Calakmul. Its heyday - III-VIII centuries after the birth of Christ. However, over time, civilization fell into decay, and the city lost its power, leaving many monuments behind. In 1931, American archaeologists found more than a hundred large Mayan structures at the site of Calakmul.

In total, they found about five thousand structures. Among them were two pyramids - "Structure I" (140 meters) and "Structure II" (45 meters).


Temple in Etzna

Temple in Etzna. Source:

In the north of Campeche is Etzna - a cultural monument of the Mayan tribes. This city was discovered and inhabited by the Maya in the 5th century BC. In the "golden" period between 600 - 900 AD, local tribes built major monuments, which included temples with a pyramidal base. At the turn of the 15th - 16th centuries, the indigenous people left Etzna. Later, the city became part of the state of Calakmul. Etzna was discovered only at the beginning of the 20th century.


Pyramid at Uxmali

Pyramid at Uxmali. Source:

In the 8th century after the birth of Christ, the Mayans founded the city of Uxmal. At the turn of the 9th-10th centuries, the city was at the peak of its power, and this had a positive effect on architecture. The Pyramid of the Magician, or the Pyramid of the Dwarf, is the tallest monument in Uxmali. It was built gradually, from the 6th to the 10th century, it only increased, and as a result it was 35 meters in height. By the X-XI centuries, the lands of Uxmali fell under the influence of the Toltecs, and the city was eventually abandoned.

Chichen Itza

The pyramid at Chichen Itza

The pyramid at Chichen Itza. Source:

Chichen Itza is the main city of the Maya. It was the cultural and political center of civilization. It was founded in about 455. At the beginning of the city's life, the Mayan culture flourished there, this people built many buildings there. However, in the X century it was conquered by hostile Toltecs, and a new period in the development of the Chichen Itza culture began. The city became the capital of the state of the new owners of the former Maya lands. But by the end of the 12th century, the troops of the three city-states destroyed Chichen Itza.

The main monument of the heyday of Chichen Itza is the El Castillo pyramid, which has a square base, nine steps, stairs decorated with snake heads. And at the very top of the pyramid there is a temple. The Temple of the Warriors is another important monument of the area. Columns, images of Toltec warriors and platforms adorn this monument.

Sources of

  • R.A. Tuchnin. The many faces of Mexico. 1988 year.
  • L. Hauregi and B.G. Martinez.A New Brief History of Mexico. 2018 year.
  • V.P. Babanin. Secrets of the great pyramids. 1999 year.
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