Vega de la Peña


Reachable only on foot and covering 8 sq km, the remains of this pre-Hispanic settlement have been only partially excavated. It shows Olmec, Huastec, Totonac and Toltec influences and its history spans more than 1500 years, from BC 100 to AD 1500, though its heyday seems to have been between AD 1200 and 1500. It's 2.5km away from the El Cuajilote site, where you can get directions.

It's not as visually impressive as its sister site; there's a small ball court and some residential buildings, but the underlying idea is mindblowing. It is possible that the yet-to-be-excavated ruins are considerably more extensive than currently believed, and that the complex civilization that flourished here played a considerably more prominent role in terms of Mesoamerican trade and influence than previously believed.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Veracruz attractions

1. El Cuajilote

1.59 MILES

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…

2. Naolinco

25.55 MILES

A worthy day trip from Xalapa, Naolinco is a 33km drive north of the city. Apart from its Parroquía San Mateo, it has a viewpoint overlooking the…

3. Cascada Las Brisas & Cascada del Salto

25.89 MILES

About 5km southeast of town, there’s a pair of lovely waterfalls. The shallow natural swimming pools beneath the falls are cold but enticing – bring your…

4. Yohualichán

26.27 MILES

This ceremonial pre-Hispanic site inhabited by Los Totonacas has niche 'pyramids' similar to El Tajín’s (Veracruz) that are in varying states of ruin. The…

5. Jardín Botánico Xoxoctic

26.45 MILES

A small but delightful botanical garden in a mountain forest with fine views 4km northeast of central Cuetzalan. Admission includes a Spanish-speaking…

6. Casa de la Cultura de Cuetzalan

27.01 MILES

This small museum alongside the tourist office exhibits traditional daily dress of the region, arts and crafts, and some archaeological pieces from nearby…

7. Museo de Antropología

29.82 MILES

Attached to spacious gardens, 4km northwest of the center, this remarkable museum contains Mexico’s second-finest archaeological collection. The focus is…