Thursday, April 01, 2010

Cacaxtla and Xochitécatl: murals and pyramids

Above you see an artist´s depiction of one of the murals at the Cacaxtla archeological site as it might have looked when it was just painted. Below you see the actual painting on which it was based, showing a Bird Man with a snake-headed staff. The mural is about 1,300 years old. What is amazing about all the murals at this site is that they have survived. They´re among the best preserved in Mexico.

If you´ve ever seen the murals from Bonampak in Chiapas, you will recognize the Mayan influence in the colors and the depiction of the face. Archeologists say the sites represent a blending of influences from the Gulf Coast and from the central plain near Mexico City.

Cacaxtla was excavated starting in around 1975 after some grave robbers opened up the pyramid. Across a ravine, about a half mile away, are the pyramids at Xochitécatl, which were excavated only about 15 years ago.

We hiked through this ravine from Xochitecatl (background). It´s steeper than it looks. The guard there told us it was "no recomendable" to walk between the sites, and it was, indeed, a bit rough.

From the top of this pyramid you can see three big volcanoes on a clear day. It was hazy when we were there, so our photos barely showed the outline of Popocatépetl, Iztaccíhuatl and Malinche. Say those first two names fast.

Spiral pyramids are rare in Mexico. This is one of the biggest.

These two sites are breathtaking yet don´t seem to attract a lot of tourists. They´re located about 90 minutes by bus from Puebla. Industrialized marketing and tourism haven´t taken hold yet.

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