This part of the world is packed with archaeological sites general and sundry piles of very, very old rocks. El Tajin is special in a number of ways including trippy architecture and a death defying dance.
Exploring El Tajin archaeological site
El Tajin (51 pesos, about US$3) is a pre-Columbian site that’s estimated to have been inhabited 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.
The El Tajin city covers more than four square miles (10 square km), 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.
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.
In 1992 Tajin became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Maybe the most well-known of its structures is the Pyramid of the Niches where 365 individual boxes give it an Escher-esque “pyramid to nowhere” look.
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.
A death-defying dance
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 we were “asked” for 30 pesos (about US$1.50) each.
Check out this death-defying dance in our video, below.