El Cuajilote

Top choice in Veracruz

Only discovered in the early 1990s, this beautiful site dates back to AD 600–900 and was once home to peoples unknown. It consists of temples, platforms and shrines, partially reclaimed from the jungle, around a long, rectangular plaza, and is worth visiting for the beauty of the surroundings alone; you are likely to have the serene place to yourself.

Follow the 'Filobobos' signs south from Tlapacoyan along a paved road; the last 1km is unpaved and very bumpy. Rancho Grande–bound taxis can drop you at the 1km turnoff.

As you enter the site, the first two buildings on your right are a ball court. Directly opposite is the excavated Templo Mayor, an impressive multitiered pyramid. Along the two sides of the plaza you can make out the shapes of other platforms and temples beneath the lush vegetation. A brook separates the Templo Mayor from the remains of shrines in the middle of the plaza. The archaeological project is ongoing and the origins of El Cuajilote's residents are yet to be determined. Over 1500 phallic fertility figures were found at Shrine A4, suggesting the influence of a Huastec fertility cult, whereas the earliest buildings at the site (possibly dating back to BC 1000) seem to be Olmec in appearance and stone sculptures found here appear to be similar to Totonac in style.

Archaeologists believe that it is also possible that the two sites that make up Filobobos were, in fact, settled by a hitherto unknown Mesoamerican civilization.

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