• Folk Art and Culture
Archeological Sites
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Weekend Side Trips

Archeological Sites

Tzintzuntzan (“Place of the Hummingbirds”):  As the government center of the Purhépecha Empire, Tzintzuntzan at its height received tribute from more than one hundred pueblos. Set on an artificial platform 425 meters (1,394  feet) long and about 250 meters (820 feet) wide, are five pyramid-like, rounded (“keyhole-shaped”) yákatas about 30 meters (98 feet) across and 15 meters (49 feet) high.   The Spanish conquistadores tried to destroy the yákatas, so none today exhibit their original height. Wooden temples dedicated to various Purhépecha gods rested on top of the yákatas. Within these wooden temples sacrifices were conducted. Here was also maintained “el fuego perpetuo” (perpetual fire) believed by the Purhépecha to be essential for maintaining the sun god’s life-giving heat and light. The site also features excavations of the foundations of living quarters for priests and the royal family and a small museum of objects recovered during excavation.

Ihuatzio (“Den of the Coyotes”)

According to the history,Ihuatzio was the military center of the Purhépecha Empire, which maintained an army of more than 250,000 fighters for repelling repeated attacks from the Aztecs to the East.  It is worth noting that the Purhépecha were never defeated by the Aztecs. This site features two pyramids: one dedicated to the sun; the other to the moon.  Before them is a large square bounded by a wall so wide a road runs along the top. The profound quiet and beauty of the site and the view from the road out across the countryside transport the visitor to an earlier time.

Tingambato (“Place Where the Climate Changes”)

This small site marks the boundary with the “Tierra Caliente” (Hot Lands). Found on the site are two pre-purhépecha pyramids similar to those at Teotihuacán near Mexico City, a ball court in perfect condition, and a ceremonial tomb discovered just a few years ago..

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