Exploring the 6 amazing archeological sites of Mexico City (Day Trip, Excursion, tour, from Mexico City)

Did you already explore the 6 amazing archeological sites open to public in Mexico City?

Visiting them is a fun and interesting way to understand more of Mexico City´s rich prehispanic past; hereby some highlights of the 6 archeological sites in Mexico City.

1) Templo Mayor

Period: 1325 – 1521
Culture: Mexica (Aztec)

01 Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor (“the Great Temple”) earned its name on account of being the principal temple of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, dedicated to Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.
The center of Mexica religious and political life, the extraordinary remains of Templo Mayor stand in the heart of Mexico City. Dedicated to Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, its treasures include a wall of skulls altar, the House of the Eagles, and a monolithic sculpture of the goddess Coyolxauhqui.
Did you know:
  • In 1790, the Coatlicue and Sun Stone sculptures were found in Mexico City’s main square, now known as the Zócalo.
  • In 1792, the first book on archeology was published in Mexico. Written by Antonio de León y Gama, it was called “Historical and chronological description of the two stones”.
  • Thanks to the intervention of Bishop Feliciano Marín, Alexander von Humboldt was able to study the Sun Stone; after he completed his work the sculpture was reburied.
Practical information:
  • Location: Seminario 8, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc, 06060 Ciudad de México, CDMX (Mexico City Center – Zocalo; 30 minutes from Metro Chilpancingo – Condesa)
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00 hrs

Virtual Trip – Templo Mayor archeological site

2) Tlatelolco

Period: 1337 – 1521
Culture: Mexica (Aztec)

02 Tlatelolco

Meaning: ´The place of the sand mound´.
A former center of government, Tlatelolco was a twin to Tenochtitlan, a friend and a foe, a companion in trade, construction, power, and religion; both were totally eclipsed following the Spanish Conquest. Many impressive remains are on view in their original location and in the site museum.
Did you know:
  • On the instructions of President Porfirio Díaz, some of the archeological work in Tlatelolco was carried out in order to send an exhibition to Madrid as part of the celebrations to mark Mexico’s centenary of Independence.
  • Tlatelolco’s site museum has a display of a fragment of a Chac Mool and a stylized tiger’s head.

Practical information:

  • Location:
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:00 to 18:00 hrs

Virtual Trip – Tlatelolco archeological site

3) Cuicuilco

Period: 2100 B.C. – 200 a.C.
Culture: Cuicuilca

03 Cuicuilco

Meaning ´Place for singing and dancing´.
The Xitle volcano of the Ajusco range erupted in about 250 AC, spewing out lava that covered up much of the Valley of Mexico’s first major city, one which had existed for a thousand years with its unique truncated cone pyramids. Today we can still marvel at what remains.
Did you know:
  • Standing 65.5 feet tall and with a diameter of 110 yards, the Tenantongo Pyramid—in the higher part of the Bosque de Tlalpan park—appears to be Cuicuilco’s second-largest structure.
  • The civil and religious constructions were not only places for local residents to congregate, but would also have been used by inhabitants from surrounding villages and towns, both for religious ceremonies and festivities as well as for economic and administrative purposes.
  • Musicians, dancers, and acrobats participated in the religious ceremonies and festivities.

Practical information:

  • Location: 
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:00 to 18:00 hrs

4) Cerro de la Estrella

Period: 900 – 1521
Culture: Mexica (Aztec)

04 Cerro de la Estrella

Named after the colonial-period Hacienda de la Estrella, located on the flanks of the hill.
The slopes of the hill where the hacienda was located had been inhabited from the earliest times, and the settlement grew in importance as the site of New Fire ceremonies, believed to revive the sun at the end of the cycle. It was celebrated every 52 years with ceremonies held in 1351, 1403, 1455 and 1507. The fall of Tenochtitlan prevented the celebration of the fifth event.
Did you know:
  • The Mexica conceived of the universe as a great flower with four petals representing the cardinal directions, while at the center of the flower lay the great Tenochtitlan.
  • In order to avoid the “death of the Sun,” which would bring total darkness to the universe, the priesthood would carry out a New Fire ceremony every 52 years, at the moment when the start of the solar and lunar years coincided.
  • Research has revealed that the Colhua were the first to use the summit of the hill to carry out the “toxiuhmopolli” or New Fire ceremony.

Practical information:

  • Location:  
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00 hrs

5) Mixcoac

Mixcoac is a ceremonial center dedicated to Mixcóatl, which means “cloud viper”, god of hunting for the Mexicas. It is located in the heart of the San Pedro de los Pinos neighborhood and can be seen from the peripheral ring. This area was erected before the imposing city of Mexico Tenochtitlán was built.

According to the legend, near the Tepozteco hill, Mixcóatl met the beautiful Chimalma, with whom he fathered his son Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl. These deities were worshiped by the Mexicas, a warrior people who had both Mixcóatl and Huitzilopochtli at the top of the divinities, since they were the only gods who carried weapons.
The center of the structures found in this archaeological site is a large basement, known as the Cultural Center. The Pyramid was partly built with reddish volcanic river ball stones. Mixcoac means “place of the serpent cloud” and alludes to the nebulous formation of the Milky Way, which on clear nights the Mexicas observed and worshiped as an evocation of the god Mixcóatl.

6) Xochimilco

The Cuahilama archaeological site in Xochimilco was occupied by numerous preclassic people, including the Cuicuilco, Copilco and Tlatilco groups. The area is believed to have been first settled by the lord of Xochimilca Acatonalli around 1265. Most of the petroglyphs visible in the area are believed to have been carved between 1450 and 1521. Cuahilama, a Nahuatl word meaning “head of an old woman”, served as an observatory, sanctuary and causeway that ran from east to west and gave access to the top of the hill. The current site is most famous for the petroglyphs on the side and surrounding slopes, expressing the worldview of the Xochimilcas.


From Mexico City, it´s easy to explore little by litte even more archeological sites. In Mexico´s Central Region alone there are in total 50 archeological sites open to public !!

Let´s explore little by little all of them with Aztec Explorers, the travellers club of Azteca Travel Tours Art. Either one of our group trips, or on private trips. Certified guides, smalls groups, in English and Spanish.

Next day trips exploring on Meetup – Aztec Explorers

Source and pictures:
Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
(National Institute of Anthropology and History)
Azteca Travel Tours Art

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