Cacaxtla

Circuito Perimetral S/N, San MIguel del Milagro, 90720 Natívitas, Tlax., Mexico

Nearly 1,000 years after the once-powerful central Mexican city of Cacaxtla was abandoned, would-be looters of the hilltop palace ruins came across fantastically well-preserved and still colorful murals painted in a somewhat puzzling Mayan style. Excavation continues today under an enormous protective shed roof. The Mural del Templo Rojo, pictured, adjoins a stairway leading to the Governor’s Room. The huge nearby Mural de la Batalla, dating from 700 CE or earlier, is a grisly blood-and-guts depiction of a fierce battle between “jaguar” and “bird” warriors. The relatively un-touristed site is a short drive from Tlaxcala, slighting longer from Puebla. You come away from a slow stroll through the labyrinthine ruins with the feeling that centuries of mysterious history have seeped into your heart and bones.

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Walking with Warriors and Royalty

Nearly 1,000 years after the once-powerful central Mexican city of Cacaxtla was abandoned, would-be looters of the hilltop palace ruins came across fantastically well-preserved and still colorful murals painted in a somewhat puzzling Mayan style. Excavation continues today under an enormous protective shed roof. The Mural del Templo Rojo, pictured, adjoins a stairway leading to the Governor’s Room. The huge nearby Mural de la Batalla, dating from 700 CE or earlier, is a grisly blood-and-guts depiction of a fierce battle between “jaguar” and “bird” warriors. The relatively un-touristed site is a short drive from Tlaxcala, slighting longer from Puebla. You come away from a slow stroll through the labyrinthine ruins with the feeling that centuries of mysterious history have seeped into your heart and bones.

Leaves Nothing to the Imagination

The murals of Cacaxtla graphically depict the brutal “Star Wars” practiced by Mesoamerican cultures of prehispanic Mexico. The archaeological site of Cacaxtla occupies a defensible hilltop just outside the city of Tlaxcalla, Tlaxcalla. Cacaxtla is approximately two hours away from Mexico City or an hour from Puebla by bus and though it may not have the name recognition of a Teotihuacan or a Palenque, the ruins are impressive for the numerous wall murals and intact architectural details. The entire hilltop site has been covered with a gigantic canopy in order to protect the murals and plaster coated walls, and provides welcomed shade from the blazing sun and even light for photography. The murals illustrate the ritual warfare engaged in by Mesoamerican cultures that coincided with calendric dates reflecting the movements of Venus and other astral objects. Cacaxtla was the home of warrior merchants that came to power in the vacuum left by the fall of Teotihuacan. The rulers of Cacxtla gained control of wide ranging trade routes between central Mexico, the Yucatan, the Gulf Coast and the Maya lowlands, resulting in a very diverse and cosmopolitan range of art and architectural influences and expressions. A visit to the site is very unique and rewarding as there are very few places in the region with extensive wall murals that escaped the ravages of time and the elements.

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