Mexico’s unmissable historical sites

Mexico’s a holiday destination that’s certainly got a lot going for it – think gorgeous sunshine, stunning beaches and a wonderfully rich history. Personally, it’s the country’s historical attractions that really piqued my interest, and you can read about some of my favourite places below.

Chicen Itza

Hopefully, these will give you a little inspiration for your own trip. And, if you’re still in the process of working out flights, accommodation and such, it’s worth checking out the various hotels at http://www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk/destinations/Mexico, since they offer a good balance between luxury and affordability.

Right, let’s get on with talking about the historical attractions, shall we?

Chichen Itza

One of the richest areas of Mexico’s past is its history surrounding the ancient Maya. And, of all the Yucatan Maya sites, Chichen Itza is arguably not only the most famous, but also the best preserved.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza should definitely be high on your itinerary if you’re keen to discover more about Mexico’s past. You’ll find it in Merida, with the site spanning an impressive 6.5 sq km.

The most famous site here is, without doubt, El Castillo. Also known as the Pyramid of Kukulan, this vast structure is 25 m high and acts as a physical representation of the Mayan calendar.

A particularly interesting thing about Chichen Itza is that is has two discernible architectural zones. So, if you explore the southern section, for example, you’ll see structures built in the traditional Puuc Maya style of this region. The central zone, meanwhile, combines central Mexican and Puuc architectural styles, having been built around the 10th century after the arrival of the Toltecs.

Tulum

Another of Mexico’s most important architectural sites is Tulum. This is situated on the Riviera Maya and, in fact, its location is part of what makes this place so special. You see, this is the only Maya site to have been built overlooking the ocean – and you can get some really fantastic views across the local beaches and out over the Caribbean Sea from here.

This ancient fortress city is really well preserved, and today there is a long walkway that leads you around the all the ruins. The best-known of these is the Castillo, which is perched on a cliff top offering all those amazing views I was telling you about a moment ago.

As a quick tip, it’s also worth bringing your swimming gear to Tulum. That may sound odd at first, but the beaches of the Riviera Maya are utterly gorgeous, and there’s a convenient stairway down to the beach just to the side of the ruins. So, there’s no excuse not to combine sightseeing and a little sun!

Mexico City

There are also some brilliant historical attractions to discover in Mexico City – you just need to know where to look. Personally, I think Zocalo is one of the best places to go. Among the largest city squares in the world, it measures a huge 240 m from east to west and 220 m from north to south. So, expect to be impressed!

Interestingly, its name means ‘base’ – a nickname given to the square, whose official name is the Plaza de la Constitucion, in the 19th century. Residents started calling it Zocalo in reference to failed plans to build a monument to independence here, which left the square with an empty statue base.

It’s got a rich history, but today it is home to some of the city’s most powerful organisations. In fact, on the square’s sides, you’ll be able to spot the Catedral Metropolitana, offices of the distrito federation government and the Palacio Nacional.