Calixtlahuaca near Toluca in Mexico is a well-preserved Aztec archaeological site which was once a thriving city originally home to the Matlatzinca people – the people of the Toluca Valley.
History of Calixtlahuaca
It’s believed the site has been inhabited since around 640BC, initially by nomadic Otomi farmers, and then settled in a more permanent way later. A small city state named Matlatzinco was formed, which lasted until Aztec forces under the emperor Axayacatl destroyed the city, burning it to the ground and slaughtering many of its inhabitants.
The Aztecs rebuilt the city, naming it Calixtlahuaca (which translates as ‘House on the Plains’ in Nahuatl): it became an outpost of the Aztec empire and built a temple to the Aztec god of the wind, Ehécatl.
In 1510, Calixtlahuaca was the site of a major rebellion: the emperor, Moctezuma II, retaliated by having the whole city destroyed (bar the Great Temple to Ehécatl) and forcibly removing the inhabitants to modern day Michoacan. Subsequently, various groups of farmers repopulated the area slowly, but the city never came close to its former glory.
The ruins of the city today are not extensive, although they’re still worthwhile. Perhaps because of this they’re not heaving with tourists, and you can often enjoy the site in relative tranquillity.
Getting to Calixtlahuaca
The site is located about 2km outside of Toluca: you’ll need to catch a bus or find a taxi as the route isn’t really suitable for walking. It’s possible to get here on a day trip from Mexico City if you’re keen.
Among Mexico's endless coastline, vibrant and modern cities, and tasty cuisine are a number of ancient historical cities. Here's our pick of 10 of the best the country has to offer.
Among Mexico's endless coastline, vibrant cities, fragrant cuisine, and stunning nature are a number of fascinating historical sites. Here's our pick of 10 of the best the country has to offer.