SIGHTS

The archaeological site (admission M$35; S9am-5:30pm) is lush with a lovely mountain backdrop. Though not as monumental as El Tajín, it's still astounding. Most of the buildings are faced with smooth, rounded, riverbed stones, but many were originally plastered and painted. A typical feature is battlementlike 'teeth' called almenas.

The Templo Mayor (Main Temple) is an 11m-high pyramid with a wide staircase ascending to the remains of a shrine. When they first encountered Zempoala, the Cortés and his men lodged in Las Chimeneas whose hollow columns were thought to be chimneys - hence the name. There are two main structures on the west side. One is known as the Templo del Sol with two stairways climbing its front side in typical Toltec-Aztec style. To its north is the Templo de la Luna whose structure is similar to Aztec temples to the wind god Ehecatl.

East of Las Chimeneas is Las Caritas (Little Heads), named for niches that once held several small pottery heads. Another large wind-god temple, known as the Templo Dios del Aire, is in the town itself - go back south on the site entrance road, cross the main road in town and then go around the corner to the right. The ancient temple, with its characteristic circular shape, is beside an intersection.

The small site museum has some interesting clay figurines, polychrome plates and obsidian flints.

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