13th century Cahir Castle in Cahir, Ireland.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Dublin, Ireland.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Stamullen, Ireland!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Ancient Ruins of Mexico

A lot of people are familiar with the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza because they are located only a two hour drive from the popular tourist city of Cancun. And so a lot of people will do day trip tours to visit. The other ruins sites close to Cancun are Tulum, and Coba.

But those ruins sites have become very touristy, and in fact there are much better sites to see if you explore the country a little further. There is much more to Mexico than the beaches of Cancun!

We've been to quite a few of the Mayan and Aztec ruins sites. Our favorite is the one in the jungles of Palenque. (Besides that, they have a really neat campground there!)

Palenque, Mexico.

I find it interesting that the Mayan and Aztec ruins were built to last thousands of years, yet the North American Indians didn't build very much that would last.


What you see in these pictures is the part that has been excavated. There is a lot more to Palenque that hasn't yet been explored, and in fact you can walk on your own in the jungle and see overgrown structures. I think we might have to make a return visit to Palenque!

The campground at Palenque has a nice swimming pool. You can see Sherman parked in the background!

Another interesting ruins site was at Uxmal. 


And the different pyramid construction at El Tajin.

You don't even have to leave the city to see the ruins of ancient civilizations. Simply go the "the big tamale"...Mexico City. The city itself is actually built on an Aztec ruins site!

It's hard to believe, but there are actually Aztec ruins underneath the Mexico City Cathedral in the center of the city! Of course they can't be excavated because it would damage the cathedral.

There's an interesting NY Times article from 2012 that details some of the fascinating finds that archaeologists have discovered beneath this huge city...

And only three days ago, they found a human skull rack during excavations taking place in the Templo Mayor area right downtown. Gruesome stuff!

At Templo Mayor right in downtown Mexico City!

I find this stuff fascinating...

And of course only 50 kms outside of Mexico City (but still in the city!) is the fabulous Aztec city of Teotihuacan where the 3rd largest pyramid in the world is located!


One of our plans during our upcoming time in Mexico this winter is to visit some different sites that we've never been to before. Despite the fact that we've been to quite a few, there are still more to see. Each one is just a little bit different, but some are better than others. Our favorite so far is Palenque, but the stuff in Mexico City is pretty interesting too!

These infrared laser temperature guns have come way down in price...

And today only, save even more for Canadians!


  1. The Mayan/Aztec/Inca ruins were all built to last using slave labor---a practice that more northern tribes never exploited on a large scale.

    1. exactly. Also most tribe were nomadic and didn't stay in one place for long.

    2. That may be true Dugg but they weren't all entirely built by slave labour but I would expect that the majority of the work was. Many of the pyramids have been added to over the course of time by different tribes/rulers and not always using slave labour. I also agree to Rita's comment that the northern tribes were more nomadic therefore didn't built "cities".

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, and for the most part it is probably true.

  3. Palenque was awesome, but my quads were sore for days afterwards -- and I'm pretty fit!

    1. We loved Palenque, it is truly an amazing sight and yest you definitely get a good workout there.

  4. Hope we can visit some with you this winter

  5. There is so much more to see that just the tourist sights that are quite interesting.

    1. Yes, there is lots to see. Having said that most pyramid sights are touristy, just that some are off the beaten path so there are less tourists than those that are easily accessible.

  6. Come visit the ruins at Oxtankah and stay at Maricasa again. It's for sale, by the way. Www.maricasa.com

    1. Yes, we have been to Oxtankah the last time we visited Maricasa. However if we decide to go back to Palenque, we may just carry on and come for a visit. :-)

  7. Mexico Desconocido is an interesting magazine and website for finding out of the way places including "lesser" ruins as they are referred to. We have run across many over the years and it was happenstance. On a car trip from Merida to Uxmal it is amazing to see smaller structures along the side of the road that are actually used as bus stops and people are sitting on them while they wait.

    I believe that geography has a lot to do with northern U.S. in terms of ruins. Forest is much more common and stone less available. There are ruins in Illinois that were once thought to be just mounds for hills. Upon further inspection they found that they were made out of dirt and wood. Over time they deteriorated and were covered with dirt and landscape. Here in the north of Mexico, most native peoples were nomadic living in desert or semi-arid land making it almost impossible to settle for any length of time.

    1. We will have to check out their website. You know that Kevin and I are always looking for those out of the way places. Yes the Yucatán and Quintana Roo states have lots of those around, I remember years ago seeing them when we walked from our resort into the town of Playa del Carmen and as you said they were right at the side of the road.

      Yes, I agree temperatures and geography do play a role in building and how the different cultures lived and survived.

  8. Hi Kevin and Ruth ..... this post is really interesting to me. I have wanted to visit this part of Mexico for the longest time and actually live down there for perhaps as long as a year in my RV. I was wondering, would you mind posting the route that you drive when you visit this part of Mexico? I am nervous about leaving the US as I have a dear hispanic friend who was born and raised in Mexico, but who has lived in the US for a couple of decades, and she always likes to freak me out with her tales of lawlessness in her country. You guys seem to have a lot of luck traveling in Mexico and it really is a country that appeals to me. Seeing the route you travel would be great as I could then plot that route online to give me an idea of the road, environment and so on. Perhaps you seasoned travelers could make a post for others like me who would like to drive around Mexico but aren't sure of the roads, etc. Thanks everso!

    1. Glad that you found the post interesting. There is so much to see here in Mexico, it would take a life time to actually see it all.

      We don't ever take the same route each and every time we go to Mexico but we do normally enter Mexico at Laredo, Texas, actually it is outside of Laredo. If you go back in our achieves we usually post a map of each day's travels as well as pictures. If you google "kevin and ruth laredo" you can find many of the posts from when we entered Mexico and then just follow the posts forward. If you do your homework and pay attention to life around you and don't get mixed up in drugs and gangs, follow the rules of the road and don't drive at night you really shouldn't have any problems at all. We don't consider our traveling in Mexico to be luck, it is attributed to being aware and having faith that most people are good people and are more that willing to help you out or show you their beautiful country and it,s amazing culture.


There are more comments on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TravelwithKevinAndRuth

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.