The Ruins of Xochicalco, Mexico
“Xochicalco” can be translated from the ancient language of Nahuatl to mean “In the House of Flowers,” and I am so happy I was able to visit it at the end of the rainy season, when flowers were blooming, and the grass was green. There is something very magical about ancient ruins, and that magic is only heightened when they are slightly overrun by the elements. I’ve been lucky enough to have explored multiple ruins in the world, but this was my first time exploring Mesoamerican ruins and it was a whole new experience.
Xochicalco is located 38 km southwest of Cuernavaca, about 76 miles by road from Mexico City. The ruins date back to 200 B.C. but Xochicalco is believed to have reached it’s peak as a city around 900 A.D. when it may have had a population of up to 20,000 inhabitants. It has been speculated that besides just a city, trading center, and religious meeting point, Xochicalco may have also been an university and center for a community of artists from other parts of Mesoamerica.
The part of the ruins I enjoyed the most was the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (also knows as the quetzalcoatl). The bas-reliefs are excellently preserved, and I spent a long time staring at the different stone portraits, finding new stories the longer I looked at the unique vignettes.
Other monuments at the site include many step-pyramid temples, an astronomical observatory, palaces, three ballcourts, sweat-baths, an unusual row of circular altars, and a cave with steps carved down into it.
Me and my friends were very lucky to have chosen September 17 (the day after Mexican Independence Day) to explore Xochicalco, and the ruins were practically deserted, allowing us free range of the area without distraction from other tourists and annoying vendors following us, as I remember from Cambodia, Indonesia, and Egypt. Or maybe with the much larger and older Aztecan Teotihuacan in the same area, Xochicalco is usually overlooked. Whatever the reason, it was a perfect day. I hope you enjoy my photographs.