Mexico’s archeological ruin sites are full of variety and plentiful. So don’t settle for ones that are packed with tourists and not worth the trip out to. We discovered an amazing archeological site in Campeche, and it needs to be on your to-do list before it becomes more popular!
The Edzná ruins have a bit of everything. The Gran Acropolis has a pyramid 165 ft (50 m) high and four other buildings around it. A large palace sits on the other side of the plaza and is part of a city that once covered over 6,000 acres (25 square kilometers). There’s evidence of inhabitants from as early as 600 B.C. But the city flourished from about 400-1000 A.D. with nearly 25,000 people living here.
The 25,000 people are long gone. In fact, we basically had the entire place to ourselves! Sound incredible? It is. So add Edzná ruins to your list and make the trip out as soon as you can.
Ednzá ruins are located about an hour’s drive outside of Campeche, Mexico. With so much to offer in an incredible setting, the site is well worth the trip out to. The name Edzná translates to Places of Itzás. Yes, as-in Chichén Itzá. It’s a bit confusing, but the name has two meanings: one is directly to a vast and powerful family (one that perhaps inhabited the Edzná region before going to Chichén Itzá), and another meaning because the name Itzá was also used as a reference to all inhabitants of the area (even though they had separate surnames).
We found plenty to keep us busy during our visit to Campeche. Check out our three-part series for more on what to do in this wonderful city! You can explore the fortified walls and museums, eat some of the best restaurants and plazas in Campeche, and find other great activities just outside the city walls.
How to Get to Edzná Ruins in Campeche
The ruin site is located about 30 miles (50 km) south of Campeche in a remote area. You can easily drive there or hop on the colectivo headed toward Pich or Bonfil for $50 pesos. These leave regularly (every 30 minutes or hour depending on the time of day) from behind the Oxxo located near Baluarte de San Pedro.
We were pleasantly surprised by the size of Edzná ruins. While not quite as extravagant as Monte Alban in Oaxaca or Palenque in Chiapas, the mere footprint and number of past inhabitants make it a meaningful site. And our favorite aspect is that there was a shockingly low number of tourists at Edzná ruins! Even the parking lot is tiny! Made for quite the visit.
The Main Plaza and Palace
As you enter the site, you’ll pay the $60 peso ($3 USD) entrance fee and go through a small room with stelae and other carvings. Then down a pathway and to the Edzná ruin site.
The first thing you’ll see is a small archway. Duck your head and go through the tunnel to enter the site. You’ll be greeted with a very wide palace that’s about 440 ft (135 m) long. It looks out toward Edzná’s main point of interest: the Gran Acropolis.
The Gran Acropolis – The Sun Point – is a raised plaza for the elites and leaders of the community which adjoins the eastern side of the palace. It has five structures that are all on top of the raised platform and look down on one central area. Not difficult to imagine this being the heart of the city long ago.
Five Floors – A Unique Pyramid
The tallest structure at Edzná ruins is 165 ft (50 mt) tall and is called the Piramide de los Cinco Pisos (Pyramid of the Five Floors). It’s unique because the stairway has multiple pathways underneath it and many rooms all throughout. Unfortunately, you cannot climb this pyramid, but you can climb just about every other building at Edzná ruins!
The Pyramid of the Five Floors was the main living quarters for the city’s leaders. The architecture on top of this pyramid is different than most; rather than a large altar or platform with a view, there is a row of columns running along the top.
All of it is spectacularly maintained and we spent a lot of time taking it in. We went up and down each of the four other buildings in the plaza to enjoy the different views from all around.
Other Nearby Sites: Masks and Ball Court
Temple of the Masks is a recently unearthed (1988) structure to the south side of the Gran Acropolis. The two masks on either side of this small temple are dedicated to the sunrise and sunset. There’s a set of stelae and a small ball court in that vicinity too. All wonderfully preserved.
After that, we turned back toward the entrance then to the west. Small pathways lead into a dense forest to explore the other sites. The trees here were awe-inspiring. Giant vines hang from the massive branches all over.
Being Watched by the Old Sorceress
One area over that way is known as the Old Sorceress. This is thought to be where the so-called witch (more likely medicine woman) lived. And I’d say the vibes matched that idea!
When we visited, we saw about 2 people in this entire area. With thick vegetation and hardly anything reconstructed in sight, it seemed as if the sorceress might still be lurking in the trees around us. We love the big temples, but sometimes these little adventures on unknown paths can be the real adventure.
Summary of Edzná Ruins in Campeche Mexico
So make your way out to Campeche and make sure to visit the Edzná ruins! The lack of tourists, size, and unique architecture combine to make a great visit. Plus, you can get a nice little workout climbing up and down the many structures and going for a short walk in the dense forest.
Looking for more information on Campeche?! Check out our comprehensive three-part series:
Do you think the Old Sorceress was watching us? Have you ever had that feeling when visiting archeological sites? Leave us a comment to let us know!