Top Ancient Places to Visit in North and Central America

Tikal- Ancient Places

From the Norsemen to the Mayans, discover some of the amazing ancient historical sites of North and Central America, where once lived the most intriguing civilizations leaving behind their legacy through the majestic ancient ruins that still scream mysteries. In case you want to act like Indiana Jones, then consider visiting these off-the-beaten ancient ruins.

L’Anse aux Meadows

Way long back before Christopher Columbus, a band of Norsemen from Greenland set sail to the east coast of North America and embarked at an unsheltered cove in the northern tip of Newfoundland precisely at L’Anse aux Meadows. This designated World Heritage Site marked a huge historical significance in human history, as it bears witness to the first European settlement in North America.

If you’re a fan of Viking history then the on-site interpretive center has much in store for you. You will learn about the Norsemen presence in this secluded area and the excavated artifacts which date back to the 11th century. Expect to find some intriguing ruins, carpentry, and a metalworking site as well.

image: Scott Baljes

Anasazi Ruins in Utah-Cedar Mesa

The vast deserted terrains of southeastern Utah are certainly very enigmatic when it comes to its wild topography-the majestic mesas, sandstone escarpments, and the awe-inspiring canyons. But what really will capture your interest here is the eclectic range of Anasazi ruins, where once lived the pre-Columbian Native American civilization. The Anasazi equally known as the Puebloans were spread across Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico from 1 A.D till 1300 A.D.

Initially, they were hunters and gatherers, but then around 300-600 A.D, they started building pit-houses with mysterious petroglyphs and pictographs. By 1300 A.D the Puebloans mysteriously abandoned their habitat and moved towards northern Mexico, into the Rio Grande Valley. Unfortunately, the majority of the ruins are not protected, so it is recommended to take cautious care while visiting the place.

image: Slazie

Ancient Places in Mexico


Journeying in the dense and misty Lacandon rainforest in Chiapas (southeastern part of Mexico) means encountering some interesting animal species such as the howler monkeys and the toucans. But the main attraction is the Palenque Mayan ruins which were rebuilt by K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, who ruled from 615 to 683 at the age of 12. This ancient site is an epicenter of exquisite architectural work, bas-relief carvings, and intriguing temples and plazas of the  Mayan civilization. The hallmark, of course, is the tomb of the ruler Pakal covered by a jade mosaic mask over his face.

image: Carlos Adampol


If you want to experience the realm of the ‘ancient Gods’, then you need to visit the birthplace of the gods in Teotihuacán located some 50 km northeast of Mexico City. This designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be built by the Toltecs in the first century, where the most enduring Mesoamerican pyramids were erected. Teotihuacán was a name given by the Aztecs speaking Nahuatl around 550 AD when the metropolis was abandoned.

Teotihuacán was once a populous sophisticated city, which was composed of multi-floor apartment compounds in order to accommodate the large population. The highlights of this ancient city are the Pyramid of the Sun (Pirámide del Sol), and the Pyramid of the Moon (Pirámide de la Luna). Another fascinating structure is the Temple of the Feathered Serpent or the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which is located at the South of Avenue of the Dead. There are more than a hundred sacrificial victims buried beneath the structure.

image: Michel Sauval

Tikal- Guatemala

In the misty Petén rainforest, discover the lush landscape with its mystifying Mayan ruins of the glorious city of Tikal. The metropolis was discovered in the 1840s and was named Tikal, which means ‘waterhole’.  This ancient site is nestled 303 km north of Guatemala City and covers more than 16 km2 with over 2000 ancient structures.

As per the ancient inscriptions, the city was called ‘Yax Mutul’, which means  ‘hair bundle’ It is believed that the city was created around 600 B.C suggesting the classic period of the Mayan civilization. During this period the Mayans were producing great artworks and architectures. It was a time when the city was flourishing and occupying about 90,000 inhabitants.  It is believed that the inhabitants were interacting with the distant metropolis Teotihuacan, which later conquered Tikal in the 4th century. This led to the burning of the major structures and gradually around the 10th century, the city was already abandoned.

Visiting this place is like going back in time, where stupefying structures such as the Great Plaza or the Temple of the Great Jaguar (dating around 734 A.D) open the doors to a world which is still an enigma to the modern people. The tallest pyramid is the Temple of  Yik’in Chan Kawil, which measures around 70 meters.  Among the many structures, find the Twin-Pyramid complexes, and monuments encrypted with hieroglyphic texts.

image: Ron North


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