The Cantona Archaeological Ruins in Puebla, Mexico is a Mesoamerican city that, as cliche as it sounds, is off-the-beaten path. It’s rarely talked about in travel books and as the tour guide told me, they only receive two tours a month. Cantona is one of the largest and most urbanized cities in pre Hispanic Mexico.
Cantona was thriving between 600 and 1000 CE with a population of about 80,000 at its peak. So far they’ve discovered 24 ball courts, 500 cobblestone causeways, ceremonial buildings and temples, and residences. Everything is so well placed, organized, and still standing that they’ve been able to study the real day-to-day activities of life in those days. It was later abandoned around AD 1050 and discovered again in 1855. They haven’t been able to figure out why they left the city but one theory as our guide mentioned was the lack of water.
There’s a few different tours you could take from one and half hours to six hours. The longer tours take you deeper into the surrounding area. The guide recommended about 2 hours to get a good glimpse of the area. Only 10% (or 1% depending on your source) has been excavated of the 4 1/2 square miles that’s said to be part of the site. The rest is all hidden underground covered by the land with cactus, trees, and dirt.
One of the most popular sights is the Earth Fertility Plaza. If you look straight at the pyramid, it’s shaped like the opening of a opens leg. On the top of the same pyramid, was of the best sights we had at the ruins. It was a complete overview of the entire area. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see Pico de Orizaba volcano out in the distance.
How To Get There
The only option you have is getting there by taxi or rental car. There’s no public transportation that will take you there from what I’ve heard. A taxi ride from downtown Puebla and back will cost you 500 pesos round-trip (roughly $35 USD) and about an hour and a half to get there.
Our tour guide spoke english very well but only 20 employees manage and run the entire operation. Of those 20 employees, very few of them could speak english.
- I got sunburned on a cloudy day. Bring sunscreen.
- Cantona is at about 7,000 feet high. Climbing all the pyramids gets tiring fast. Bring and drinks lots of water and walk slow.
- Bring food with you and have a picnic. There’s very little around the Cantona area.
- Open between 10AM and 6PM.
- Admission is less than 50 pesos.
I was invited on a sponsored trip by the Mexican Tourism Board to explore and eat all of Puebla.