Many people visit Chichén Itzá in the spring of March 20/21 and fall September 21/22 to appreciate the equinox where the sunlight creates the illusion of a snake going up and down the stairs of the pyramid “El Castillo”. The main staircase is adorned with the feathered serpent and the door frames at the top of the temple show Toltec warriors.
“El Castillo” is also called the Kukulkan pyramid and is a typical building of Mayan architecture: quasi a stone Mayan calendar.
Other places of interest besides the great Kukulkan are:
- the round observatory
- The ball playground (Juego de Pelota)
- The warrior temple
- The convent of the sisters (Convento de las Monjas)
- The group of a thousand columns (El Grupo de las Mil Columnas).
The main dry season is the generally dry months of December to May. The weather is consistently hot and humid, only between November and February the temperatures drop slightly. During the rainy season (from June to September) there are violent tropical rains.
So far only 5% of the ruins have been discovered (the rest is still covered by wild jungle) however this ancient Mayan metropolis has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO since 1987. Imposing are the remains of these ruins and are probably the most impressive of all that Mayan sites in southern Mexico. Admire the marvelous Temple of the Inscriptions, the 20-meter-high pyramid and the Temple of the Crosses. Imagine how the warriors painted red with artistic details of blue and yellow stucco looked then.
Since the city of Palenque was built on man-made terraces and is located in the middle of the jungle, during your visit you can listen to the wild animals in their natural habitat: howler monkeys, toucans and ocelots.
If you want to see all the tourist destinations around Palenque you will need 2 to 3 days. We recommend visiting: The Agua Azul and Misol-Ha, Waterfalls can be visited in one day. Yaxchilan and Bonampak can be visited another day.
Although the architecture in Tulum is not as impressive as in Chichén-Itzá or Uxmal, this place has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In addition to its role as a seaport, Tulum was an important commercial and religious center. Here you can see a still intact stone Mayan calendar, where sun rays transmitted with the help of observe how by the small window the sun rays indicate the winter solstice.
Other attractions include snorkeling and diving: there is also a fantastic reef and mysterious underwater caves to explore.
Uxmal is now one of the most visited Mayan ruins and, after the restoration of some buildings, it offers a good overview of the original appearance that the city had. It has a small museum with samples found in the ruins. Signs of the ball games area, pottery, etc. Every night, a light and sound show is offered in the nuns’ ring (North Temple): The ruins are illuminated in alternating colors and dramaturgically accompanied by music. A theatre performance describes the history of Uxmal origins, the life of its inhabitants and rulers, the war guilds and the invocation of Chaak their rain’s God.
Overall, the boom period from Monte Alban lasted about 1,700 years until the Middle Ages. In its heyday, around 25,000 people lived in Monte Alban. They formed a well organized society in which the priests were in charge.
In addition to the archaeological zone, in the surroundings there are many tourist attractions:
with its historical and cultural richness, Oaxaca is a fascinating tourist destination where ancient civilizations, colonial architecture and tradition that still persist come together. The culture and warmth of its inhabitants make a trip to Oaxaca an extraordinary experience.
We recommend the following destinations during your stay in Oaxaca. We will glady support you in the organization:
San Antonio Arrazola
This place is known for the copal wood carvings, better known as “Alebrijes”. These asymmetrical figures arose from a dream that Pedro Linares had in Mexico City and was introduced to the Oaxaca area in the 1980’s. The designs were adapted to the copal wood carving technique that was dominated by artisans of the region, mostly represented by jaguars, tigers, mermaids, cats and nahuals. The adaptation of the alebrije was perfected by Manuel Jimenez, a native of San Antonio Arrazola.
Ex-Convento Cuilapan de Guerrero
Ex-Convent Cuilapan de Guerrero is a jewel of the architecture of the colonial period built in 1555 and although it could never be completed, its majesty and its Gothic style reveal the sobriety and grandeur of this religious order. Like many of the buildings in Oaxaca, the Cuilapan convent was made with quarry carved by indigenous artisans.
Pottery by San Bartolo Coyotepec
The town of pre-Hispanic origin, by the archaeological finds found it is known that it was a zapotec settlement from time immemorial. The main attraction is the black clay pottery made by local artisans and whose originality and designs are unique in the world. We recommend visiting the “Doña Rosa” gallery, where the rudimentary techniques in the elaboration of different types of ceramics are shown.
The Tule tree
Among the natural beauties of Oaxaca, one of the most astonishing is the gigantic and unique sabino called “El Arbol del Tule”. It has a height of 40m., A diameter of 52.58 m., A weight of 509 tons, and approximately 2,000 years old. It is located in the town of Santa Maria El Tule, just 12 km from the City of Oaxaca, where you can also visit a small temple dating from 18th century with baroque altarpieces. After the visit don’t forget to try the homemade liquor made by the women of the monastery.
Thermal waters of Hierve el Agua
“Hierve el Agua” is a system of petrified waterfalls made of calcium carbonate. The waterfalls are of natural origin and were formed thousands of years ago by the dripping of water with a high mineral content. The water has a temperature of around 24 degrees Celsius and the waterfalls are between 12 and 30 meters high. At the top of the waterfall where the falling water originates a large pool was formed, which currently serves as a natural spa with hot spring.
Archaeological site of Mitla
Mitla is the most important ceremonial center after Monte Alban, the word Mitla is of Nahuatl origin and means “Place of the Dead” The greatest attraction is undoubtedly the varied ornamentation of its buildings, achieved through the fretwork system that distinguishes it from the rest of the country. There are five groups of constructions known as: “Grupo del Sur”, “Grupo del Adobe”, “Grupo del Arroyo”, “Grupo de las Columnas” and “Grupo de la Iglesia”. In the north and east buildings are the most beautiful tombs, where the Zapotec priests and kings were buried.
Visit to a mezcal distillery
The famous Mexican liquor made from the pulp of the agave has an alcohol content of 40% and is made from the heart of the plant after it has first bloomed. The leaves are cut off, the "pineaple" is cooked and ground; then it is fermented and distilled several times. The famous worm (Gusano del Maguey), which is actually a caterpillar, should not be missing in the tasting.
The Teotitlán weaver
At the end of the day, visit “El Tejedor” (the weaver) from Teotitlán del Valle. In Teotitlán del Valle, you can see the drying, freshly dyed wool threads waiting to be processed. We dye with natural products. The whole place specializes in the production of rugs and each family, mostly of Zapotec origin, has its own style of weaving.