El Tajin Archeological Site – Papantla, Veracruz state, Mexico


This part of the world is, of course, lousy with archeological sites and ruins and general and sundry piles of very, very old rocks and we’ll be taking you to plenty of them.

El Tajin (admission 51 pesos)  is specials in a number of ways. It’s a pre-Columbian site that’s estimated to have been inhabited at least as far back as 5,600 BC. El Tajin is also believed to be one of the largest and most culturally diverse settlements of the era.

Excavated structures are interspersed with un-excavated mounds like this one which give visitors a sense of what El Tajin may have looked like when archeologists first got to work.

El Tajin is believed to be one of the largest settlements of the era and sections look a bit like city streets.

The El Tajin city covers more than four square miles but only a fraction of that is open to visitors.  We walked through and photographed the entire public area in just over a couple of hours.

El Tajin archeological site.

Every March Tajin is the epicenter of the multi-day Cumbre Tajin Festival. Temporary tent cities are set up to accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors who come to see performances of traditional arts, visit the site at night and enjoy concerts put on by current musicians.

The distinctive Pyramid of the Niches at the El Tajin archeological site in Veracruz state.

The distinctive Pyramid of the Niches at the El Tajin archeological site in Veracruz state.

In 1992 Tajin became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Maybe the most well-known of its structures is the Pyramid of the Niches. the 365 individual boxes give it an Escher-esque “pyramid to nowhere” look.

Many of the carved stones at El Tajin are in remarkably good shape, despite their age.

In addition to the ruins themselves, Tajin has a small museum which is nicely laid out and houses many carved pieces discovered at the site.

We loved the big old smile depicted on this face in one of the etchings at El Tajin archeological site.

As we were leaving the site a group of traditional Voladores were beginning their daily performance by climbing up a very tall pole in front of the main entrance.  About midway through the dancer’s slow, zen-like spin head-first toward the earth (see video, below) we were “asked” for 30 pesos each.

Traditional Voladores performers spin head-first toward the earth.

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2 comments on “El Tajin Archeological Site – Papantla, Veracruz state, Mexico

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention El Tajin Mexico Veracruz Archeology Pyramid of the Niches

  2. So glad that you got to visit Tajin… so sad that you were asked for an specific amount of money.
    I knew that the Voladores were allowed to ask visitors for money, however, it is suposed to be a voluntary donation, I never heard before about a “fee”. I will look more into this…

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