Guachimontones

Guachimontones is an archaeological site in Mexico located near the town of Teuchitlan in the state of Jalisco. One of the most recently unearthed archaeological sites in the country, the beautiful ruins at Guachimontones Jalisco have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The circular stepped pyramids are a unique sight, and the third pyramid is the largest round pyramid in Mexico.

The pyramids at Guachimontones are representative of the Teuchitlan architectural tradition. The Teuchitlan were a pre-Columbian society that arose sometime between 200 BC and 200 AD. The Guachimontones ruins were unearthed only in the late 1980s, making it one of the most recently discovered archaeological sites in Mexico. The round pyramids in this area are also unique throughout the world, so a trip to the site is a rare treat.

The Guachimontones ruins feature circular building structures that encircled the stepped pyramids. The pyramids themselves have a first level of high steps leading to a platform bearing another, smaller set of steps. The third pyramid, the largest, is still overgrown with grass and brush. Tourists can hike to the top of the pyramid to get an amazing view of the surrounding countryside and nearby Teuchitlan. Many of the pyramids in this area were used as tombs, though these particular pyramids seemed to be used for religious ceremonies. A hole in the top of the pyramids indicates that a post was set up at the summit, likely to be used for traditional religious ceremonies where a priest would have attached himself to the top of the pole by a tether, then swung round and round the pole.

Near the ruins are several mounds of earth and stone that once supported buildings. There are also several plazas at the site and even two ancient ballcourts. The ancient inhabitants of Guachimontones Jalisco played a ball game probably similar to the modern game of soccer. It is thought that the players likely hit a ball on these narrow courts, using only their hips—a theory attested to by a large number of broken pelvises among skeletons unearthed in the area.

After visiting the site at Guachimontones Jalisco, tourists would do well to visit the nearby town of Teuchitlan as well. Much of the pottery and treasures that were buried near the foot of the pyramids were looted before the pyramids themselves were discovered by the archaeological community, but some original pieces, as well as reproductions, can still be viewed at the Guachimontones Museum in Teuchitlan. There is also a very interesting display of obsidian blades, which were a prime commodity for this area in ancient times. The town itself is also charming, with elegant houses and churches, and some lovely inns where you can find a night's accommodation. The pace of life here is slower than at more heavily touristed areas, and you will be able to avoid the crowds for a day of relaxation. The town square has a nice green area with trees and park benches if you crave a place to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Guachimontones is an easy one-hour drive from Guadalajara, and the countryside is beautiful to drive through, with fields of blue agave lining the roads. Many tour companies can arrange day trips from Guadalajara, though you may want to explore these beautiful sites independently. It's a terrific place to visit if you're interested in visiting ruins in Mexico and learning about the area's history.

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