You might’ve seen them featured in films such as The Ruins and Apocalypto, but pre-Columbian civilizations like the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas have so much history and mystery surrounding them that only snippets of their illustrious history has been covered on the silver screen.
If you want to visit the same landmarks and walk around the grounds that have been made famous by the aforementioned empires, then you better make it fast–some of these might be closed in the upcoming years. Let’s revisit three locations, which were central to each of the previously mentioned civilizations that are now all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Chichen Itza
I previously shared our trip to Guatemala where I visited Tikal, but the site is only one of the capitals of the Mayan civilization. Another location is Chichen Itza which Robb Report described as “one of the greatest Mayan centers.”
Chichen Itza is located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which was also the area where the extinction-level meteor impact occurred at the time of the dinosaurs.
At the center of the city is El Castillo or ‘the castle,’ a step pyramid that reaches almost 100 feet. It is sometimes referred to as the Temple of Kukulcan, named after the feathered serpent deity, as a structure dedicated in its honor.
You can see the representation of the god at the sides of the north staircase. During equinoxes, shadows are cast onto the balustrade, which gives an illusion of the ‘crawling’ serpent deity that signifies its descent.
The Aztecs are another prominent pre-Columbian civilization. Their culture has had a profound impact so much so that modern society still replicates their way of living not only in various traditions and movies, but also in reality shows and video games.
You might’ve heard about the hit 90s Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple which will soon be turned into a movie, according to Geek.com due to its popularity. There are games like the puzzler Zuma’s Revenge from PopCap Games and slots title Montezuma from gaming portal Spin Genie, which became famous for its Slingo titles and other games, that explore the mythology and real-life culture of ancient mesoamerican civilizations including the Aztecs. Both games were inspired by Montezuma who was, in fact, a legendary Aztec emperor.
Teotihuacan, is located 25 miles northeast of Mexico City, a massive city complex that encompasses more than 80 square kilometers. Although already abandoned, many of its structures are still intact, the largest of which is the Pyramid of the Sun that stands over 200 feet tall and has a length by width ratio of 720 by 760 feet.
National Geographic specified that the city pre-dates the Aztec empire and its origins or real builders are still a mystery, but it was the Aztecs who gave the location the name Teotihuacan which literally translates to “Place of the Gods”. The Aztecs made the city rise to power and it became their headquarters as they seized control of a large portion of Mexico during their time.
3. Machu Picchu
Of course, when we talk about the Incas, one place that comes to mind is Machu Picchu. I’ve made a post about how to prepare for the trip, and this place is just so magical that it’s just plain wrong not to recommend it to others.
First of all, it was built atop a mountain range with blocks of stones coming from other locations far from the site itself. This fact baffles researchers and scientists as to how the builders transported such heavy and huge boulders to build the city.
The most important spots within the ruins are the ritual stone Inti Watana, Room of the Three Windows and Temple of the Sun. In all, Machu Picchu was named after Quechua words that mean “old peak.”
Have you ever been to any of these places?