Aztec Temples information
An invigorating 358-step hike up the mountainside above Malinalco takes you to one of the country’s few reasonably well-preserved temples , from where there are stunning views of the valley and beyond. From the main square follow signs to the zona arqueológica, which take you up the hillside on a well-maintained footpath with signs in Spanish, English and Náhuatl; the last ticket is sold at 5pm. The site itself is fascinating and includes El Paraíso de los Guerreros (a mural that once covered an entire wall) depicting fallen warriors becoming deities and living in paradise.
The Aztecs conquered the region in 1476 and were busy building a ritual center here when they were conquered by the Spanish. El Cuauhcalli (the Temple of the Eagle and Jaguar Knight, where sons of Aztec nobles were initiated into warrior orders) survived because it was hewn from the mountainside itself. The entrance is carved in the form of a fanged serpent.
Temple IV (located on the far side of the site) continues to baffle archaeologists. As the room is positioned to allow the first rays of sunlight to hit it at dawn, there has been speculation that this place was part of a Mexica sun cult, a solar calendar or a meeting place for nobles – or some combination of these.
Situated near the site entrance, the Museo Universitario Dr Luis Mario Schneider explores the region’s history and archaeology in a beautiful modern museum space.