5 Must Visit Ruins in Latin America

by James Eder on February 17, 2012

5 Must Visit Ruins in Latin AmericaLatin America is famed for the ruins of ancient civilizations that dot its landscape, and no tour of the region is truly complete without witnessing these historic marvels. Here are some of the greatest ruins in Latin America you must see while on vacation.

Perhaps the most iconic remnant of the Incan civilization, Machu Picchu in Peru is a designated World Heritage Site and a singularly unique attraction. Constructed during the mid 1400’s, around a century before the Spanish arrived in the region, there remains some degree of uncertainty over precisely what the site was used for. Most believe that the site was effectively a royal estate or religious site, but others believe it may have been used as a prison or a test site for agricultural methods. Regardless of the truth of its purpose, the site is slowly being restored, giving visitors the opportunity to see what it may have looked like when it was brand-new. For any trip to Peru, Machu Picchu is a ruin that absolutely must be visited.

For those visiting the Honduras, Copan is a Mayan ruin that also enjoys status as a World Heritage Site. Though parts of the ruins have been eroded by the Copan River (since diverted to protect the site), much of the site remains intact, and the city remains as a location that was occupied for over two thousand years (including, for a time, as the capital of a local civilization). Copan is believed to have had a major influence on the surrounding areas of the Honduras, making a trip to this ruin a great way to dive into the culture that once ruled this region as its own.

One of the largest sites of the Mayan civilization, the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala showcase an area inhabited for about 1400 years. Dominating the Maya both politically and economically during the height of its use, Tikal boasts a number of temples and tombs that make this site one of the most fascinating archeological exhibits in all of Latin America and thus a fantastic destination for any trip to the nation.

Owned and maintained by the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico’s Yucatan region, the Chichen Itza is another major archeological site of the Mayan people. Thought to be one of the myth-like great cities in late Mesoamerican literature, it was certainly a major trading site and regional capital. Parts of the city, like the Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court, serve as impressive reminders of the civilization that once called this city home, and the area is large enough that even several days may not cover everything there is to see. Whether you want to examine all the details or just look at the highlights, Chichen Itza is an excellent locale for any traveler to visit.

Though not nearly as popular as Machu Picchu, the walled site of Kuelap in Peru is an intriguing piece of history. More than four hundred buildings are held within a mammoth exterior wall, although uncertainty exists as to whether the site was specifically a fortress or simply a fallback position in case the civilization needed it. Impressive in scale and offering more than enough places to explore, Kuelap is a destination for people who want to see the wonders of ancient civilizations while avoiding the crowds often present at more famous sites.

These sites (and many others) are generally available as part of tour packages through the region, and can often be visited on a free day if they aren’t already part of the main tour.

Note from LatinDiscover.com: Contact us today at 1-800-791-6520 to book a tour to the most popular Latin America ruins. You can also make a request by emailing us HERE.

By James Eder


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

James Eder February 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Kuelap seems like a particularly interesting site to me; I like places that can be (somewhat) explored, and major complexes are definitely more fun than smaller sites. Also, I like smaller crowds.


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