El Tajin, Los Voladores and a really old cemetery






              If you decide to visit El Tajin stay in the smaller town of Papantla rather than Poza Rica.  Poza Rica is the larger town where most El Tajin visitors tend to stay but it is more touristy and expensive.  El Tajin was a great park to visit and Papantla provides a more authentic, less commercialized and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy after a long hot day at El Tajin. 

Map of Mesoamerica, the new word for the day.

Click on the image and instantly become a better person.


An overview of the grounds of El Tajin, in the NE part of Veracruz State.

In Spanish.

In English.

Just beyond the entry to the park - I knew it would be worth the trip as soon as I walked in.

It's very hot and muggy in the park.

The city flourished between 850-1150 AD. Among other things it is thought to be a center for the game of Pelota.

As many as 12-16 Pelota courts are likely here, 12 discovered and more assumed, more than any other site. Pelota had great spiritual significance.

Occupied by the Totonac's, like Cempoala from the previous page.

It was the most important trade and industry center in NE Mesoamerica after the fall of Teotihuacan around 650 AD.

Info about the following pyramid, one of the coolest I've seen. The outside was painted red and the windows were painted black.

365 Niches - one for every day of the year.

Panels like these were found throughout the city center and around the Pyramid of the Niches.

It seemed like every angle was good for photographing this thing.

Every time I thought I had a good shot I would walk a little bit and find a better one.

Description for the following panel picture.

You can make out lots of the details. These types of inscriptions mix people, serpents, warfare and religion, and are common throughout Mesoamerica.

The long outside wall of the area dedicated to Quetzalcoatl. Like the Pyramid of Niches it was one of the last things built...

The theory suggests that the rulers wanted to show that things were going well by building those two grandiose structures...

Another theory suggests that the laborers, a great portion of the population, revolted after all the forced labor to complete the structures.

Much of the park has not been excavated yet - here's one of the many partially excavated ruins.

Los Voladores before their descent.

The four Voladores fall back and gradually spin to earth while the 5th stays on top dancing to his own flute/drum music.

The pole is 47 meters high, about 150'. They make 13 revolutions before their gentle landing on the ground.

13 x 4 (Voladores) = 52, a number meant to honor Venus. It's a 1500 year old tradition originating in the Gulf of Mexico and spreading through MesoAm.

Party animals. This tradition is thought to originate in or near Papantla.

Papantla zocolo, one of the nicest I've seen, with lots of little private spots and vegetation. Papantla is a great little city to visit.

Many of the paths from the center of the zocolo to the outside have these benches.

A large stone Voladore overlooks Papantla.

Quiahuiztlan burial site. Also occupied by the Totonec's Cortez met these guys right after the "fat cheif" and his people from Zempoala.

The Quiahuiztlans, Zempoalans and Cortez formed an alliance against the Aztecs.

Great view of the Gulf of Mexico from the burial site.