The Pyramid of the Niches at the EL Tajin archeological site.

© Tiago_Fernandez/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pirámide de los Nichos

Top choice in Veracruz

El Tajín’s most emblematic structure, the beautifully proportioned Pyramid of the Niches, is just off the Plaza Menor. The six lower levels, each surrounded by rows of small square niches, climb to 18m. Archaeologists believe that there were originally 365 niches, suggesting that the building may have been used as a kind of calendar. In its heyday, it was painted red with black niches.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Veracruz attractions

1. Juego de Pelota de Las Pinturas

0.02 MILES

The Juego de Pelota de las Pinturas (Ball Court of the Paintings), to one side of the Pirámide de los Nichos, is so called as it has two very impressively…

2. Plaza Menor

0.06 MILES

Beyond the Plaza del Arroyo in the south of the site, flanked by pyramids on four sides, is the Plaza Menor (Lesser Plaza), part of El Tajín’s main…

3. Juego de Pelota Sur

0.06 MILES

Some 17 ball courts have been found at El Tajín. The Juego de Pelota Sur dates from about 1150 and is the most famous of the courts, owing to the six…

4. El Tajín Chico

0.13 MILES

El Tajín Chico was the government area of the ancient city and would have been home to the ruling classes. Many of the buildings at El Tajín Chico have…

5. El Tajín

0.16 MILES

No one knows for sure who built this mighty pre-Hispanic city of around 20,000 inhabitants (The Totonacs? The Huastecs?), which is why archaeologists…

6. Museo El Tajín

0.37 MILES

Do drop in to the on-site museum at the entrance to El Tajín (included in your ticket price) to see an excellent model of the site. It also displays a…

7. Parque Israel C Téllez

3.64 MILES

The bustling heart of Papantla, there always seems to be something going on in or around this zócalo terraced into the hillside – head here on Friday…