Mexico has a variety of beautiful, mysterious ruins scattered across the country. If you love history, these are the best Aztec ruins in Mexico to visit on your travels.
Mexico is rich with history and culture, mostly adopted from colonizers and the native Aztec civilization that used to encompass the country. Although the Aztec empire ended in 1521 after Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, conquered the Aztec empire, much of the culture and ruins remain intact.
Looking for other unique places to visit in Mexico? Check out all our articles here, or start with these posts:
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Best Aztec Ruins In Mexico
Today, the best Aztec ruins in Mexico are an exciting opportunity for tourists and travelers who love rich and deep history. Not only can visitors get an education and learn about the ancient people who occupied the country, but they can get an up-close view of the iconic architecture of the Aztec empire.
Whether you want to visit the Pyramid of the Sun or small villages left abandoned after the Spanish invasion, there are plenty of locations to explore and information to learn about the Aztec empire.
The Aztec empire was one of the most significant civilizations in recent history. There is much that researchers and tourists can learn from the empire’s decline due to disease, defeat, and political differences in areas that once thrived.
Teotihuacan is the most iconic of all Aztec ruins in Mexico. This Aztec ruin is located just outside the center of Mexico City and includes two massive pyramids. Pyramids were essential to the Aztec civilization because they were homes for their gods and a place to bury their kings.
The two pyramids located in Teotihuacan are the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Additionally, upon coming to Teotihuacan, you will walk the Avenue of the Dead – a pathway leading to the Pyramid of the Moon.
Although there is not much known about the location and even less uncovered, Teotihuacan allows visitors and locals to learn more about ancient Aztec culture. Renowned worldwide, It is the most iconic Aztec ruin in Mexico.
It’s a huge site and will take you around 3 hours to walk around and explore. If you arrive at dawn you can catch a hot air balloon that will give you a fantastic aerial view of the complex ruins so you can appreciate how enormous the city was.
Santa Cecilia Acatitlan
Santa Cecilia is one of the best examples of Aztec architecture and how that architecture evolved. During the beginning of the Aztec empire, Santa Cecilia rested on a shoreline of Lake Texcoco and held a stunning view of the ancient landscape.
Much of Santa Cecilia lay ruined when Spanish conquerors came and colonized the location. These conquerors were devout Christians and felt that ancient Aztec ruins were heathen and had many of them destroyed or torn apart to repurpose the brick to build Christian churches.
However, there is enough of Santa Cecilia to give researchers and visitors an idea of what life was like in the area for the ancient Aztec people.
Yautepec is a small Aztec city that is full of residential houses. This site receives fewer visits than some of Mexico’s more notorious Aztec ruins like Teotihuacan, but it still offers detail on the everyday lives of ancient Aztec people. An Aztec tribe named Tlauhuicas living in the area started Yautepec as their tribe grew.
Yautepec is about 60 miles (or 100 kilometers) from Mexico City, meaning this village would be far from the hub of the Aztec empire.
Templo Mayor, Mexico City
Templo Mayor is located in the center of Mexico City’s historic center, and resides beside a large and impressive cathedral. It was one of the most important temples in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, and it attracts many visitors every year.
Templo Mayor was built in 1325, and the temple was dedicated to two of the most famous Aztec gods: Tlaloc, the god of rain, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of war.
This building underwent many renovations over the hundreds of years of use by the Aztec people. Templo Mayor is protected by the Mexican government and is an attractive destination for many researchers and tourists.
This temple was only recently discovered in the 1970s, when a workman found a sun disk as they were carrying out repair on a building. The site was then fully excavated and opened to the public. It’s an absolute must-visit when you’re in Mexico City!
Tlatelolco lies just outside of Mexico City and is a notorious location. Tlatelolco is especially significant because it lies where visitors can see all three stages of Mexico’s evolution in one place. Beside the ruins of Tlatelolco are buildings constructed during the colonial era and buildings reflecting modern Mexico.
Tlatelolco was not very famous or well known until the 1968 massacre that brought attention to the area when 400 protestors lost their lives for standing against the Olympic games.
Tlatelolco lies only 15 minutes from the center of Mexico City, making it easy to access and visit.
Tenayuca has a more complex history than any other Aztec ruin in Mexico. This location was founded in the 1200s by a tribe, but the Aztec empire conquered Tenayuca in the 1300s. Tenayuca is the primary location where the unique use of double pyramid patterns began common practice in Aztec culture.
The Aztec empire enjoyed the duality of gods, temples, and staircases, and these concepts can be seen in many ancient Aztec ruins all over Mexico. Tenayuca is home to the first use of duality in Aztec culture and remains a crucial part of what the Aztec empire became.
Tepozteco is more than 600 years old and holds a small temple dedicated to the god of fertility and alcohol. This location was a religiously significant site where many ancient Aztec citizens would travel for blessings. Many visitors would travel from dozens of miles or kilometers away to visit this temple.
Tepozteco holds carvings from the 1400s and 1500s and gives more details about the life of Aztec citizens during that time.
Teopanzolco was a small Aztec city that was founded in the 1300s. This location lies near the Mexican city of Cuernavaca. Although this city was started by a tribe not included in the Aztec empire, Aztec warriors invaded and took control of Teopanzolco in 1427.
Teopanzolco is nearly gone. The site saw much destruction from poor weather conditions and war. However, the main center received restorations. This location has temples dedicated to rain and war gods, small buildings for religious services, and an 800-year-old pyramid that was remodeled by the Aztec empire in the 1500s.
Malinalco is one of the most unique and significant locations for researchers and visitors. Malinalco is a more recently built location compared to many other Aztec locations.
This lesser-known location was founded in the 1400s and was likely only in use for less than 100 years before the Aztec empire fell to Spanish conquistadors.
Malinalco was used as a gathering point for religious and military operations, and evidence left at the scene sheds light on the military hierarchy that the Aztecs used during their empire.
Check Out The Best Aztec Ruins In Mexico
There are dozens of ancient Aztec sites that tourists, locals, and researchers can explore to learn about one of the greatest empires known to modern humankind. Although the Aztec empire is not without its blights and dark marks of murder, sacrifice, and conflict, there is much to learn about how the ancient people operated in the area.
Not only are these sites a testament to the technological advancements of the ancient Aztec empire, but they can give researchers clues on what led to the Aztec empire’s demise. Although the Aztecs were strong, they were not able to outlast the Spaniard invaders and thus lost the battle to keep their own culture, land, and identity.
Although the Aztec empire is gone, its ruins remain intact and protected by the Mexican government. These sites provide entertainment, education, and knowledge for everyone able to view the impressive and stunning architecture of these ruins.