Mexico’s ancient civilizations were the most sophisticated and formidable in North and Central America, and their cities and sacred precincts are a national treasure and a highlight of the country. Their tall pyramids, richly decorated temples and palaces, ritual ball–game courts and gruesome sacrificial sites have amazed outsiders since the Spaniards arrived on Mexican soil in 1519. Visiting them today is still very much a journey of discovery into an extraordinary past, and an experience not to be missed even if you have no prior knowledge of ancient Mexico. Many impressive sites have been restored and made accessible to visitors. The most famous sites are often thronged with large numbers of visitors (arrive early). Others are hidden away on remote hilltops or shrouded in thick jungle, and can be the most exciting and rewarding to visit, for those with an adventurous spirit.