Top 10 archaeological sites in Latin America


Latin America is rich in history and culture. It has emblematic archaeological sites and world heritage that tourists can discover in addition to the incredible nature that surrounds them. The ancient civilizations that settled in Latin America left, reflected in history, the greatness of their cultures in impressive archaeological sites where majestic cities once stood.

Here are 10 of the most important that travelers cannot miss.


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Machu Picchu

Located in Peru, northwest of the city of Cusco, on the heights of the Andes mountain range, this site was inhabited by the Inca civilization and is considered a jewel of architecture and engineering. It was built in the 15th century and was one of the residences of the Tahuantisuya, as the great empire of the Incas is called.

To get there, visitors can take a train and then take fabulous nature trails. Once in the sanctuary, the tourist can know important places of this culture, such as the temple of the sun, the temple of the three windows, the liturgical fountains, the main temple, the palace of the just, the sacred place and the royal museum , principally.

Chichén Itzá, Mexico, is one of the most important cities of the ancient Maya civilization. (Photo via Kai Lawson).

Chichen Itza

It is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. It is located very close to the city of Cancun and the famous Riviera Maya. The visitor cannot miss the opportunity to climb the pyramid dedicated to Kukulkan, the great feathered serpent, which is open to the public in part.

This Mayan pyramid has 91 steps on each side leading to the upper temple. In total, there are 365 steps representing the days of the year. At the equinoxes, the shadows of the steps create the body of the serpent which reaches the base where there are two colossal heads. Over time it seems that the serpent descends to the head which touches Mother Earth and fertilizes nature.


Located in the city of Flores in Guatemala, this ancient city was one of the most important and populated in the ancient Maya civilization. It has more than 5,000 buildings of which only 5% have been restored and can be visited. Its pyramids have steps that reach important altars of this culture. In its main square, there are still winter solstice celebrations that tourists can enjoy, in addition to important buildings such as the Seven Temples Square and the Central and North Acropolis. It is also strongly recommended to know the place where the ball game was practiced.


Located near Mexico City, this important ceremonial center offers visitors two impressive pyramids dedicated to the Sun and the Moon. This city, which means “where men become gods”, was found in ruins by the Aztecs. In the center is the Calzada de Los Muertos, which leads to the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. Both of these large buildings feature a large maze of underground caves where it is believed that burial rites and other fertility events were performed.

The enormous monuments of Easter Island in Chile are one of the great mysteries of history.  (Photo via Flickr/Lee Coursey).
The enormous monuments of Easter Island in Chile are one of the great mysteries of history. (Photo via Flickr/Lee Coursey).

The Moais

Easter Island, Chile is where this fantastic place is, guarded by huge statues, built as tombs between the 9th and 16th centuries, which remain a mystery to archaeologists due to the difficulty that it had to cost to move in different zones of the island. There are over 900 Moai created by ancient Rapa Nui. Most of them were carved out of stone from the Rano Raraku volcano and more than 400 remain in various phases of construction.

Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands)

This incredible archaeological site is located in Santa Cruz, Argentina, Patagonia. This is one of the best places to see cave paintings depicting hunting scenes and abstract figures, but most important is the hand marks on the stone. This site has the oldest paintings of South American villages and also has remains of bones, utensils and animal skins that were the basis of the sustenance of ancient civilizations of the Paleolithic period.

Chan Chan

Another of the wonders of Peru is this archaeological site located in the city of Trujillo, on the northern coast of the country. It was a city of great splendor between the 9th and 15th centuries, built by the Chimu culture until its destruction by the Incas. The citadel of Nik An stands out from this place, which was built in adobe and designed with interesting geometric shapes.


It is the most important archaeological park in Honduras, located in the so-called Copán Valley. The visitor discovers in this place many secrets of the ancient Mayan civilization such as the ball game, the Acropolis, the Grand Plaza and the staircase of the hieroglyphs, which can be traversed with the help of specialized guides. Visitors cannot miss Altar Q, which is the site’s most important monument and depicts 16 of the 18 monarchs who ruled this important city for nearly five centuries.

The Nazca Lines in Peru can be seen from above aboard tourist planes.  (Photo via GAdventures).
The Nazca Lines in Peru can be seen from above aboard tourist planes. (Photo via GAdventures).


In Peru, in the Nazca Desert, is this mysterious place also known as the Nazca Lines or Hieroglyphs of the Jumana Pampas. They are huge drawings that can be seen from above and represent perfect figures. It is believed that they were created as offerings to the gods, who could admire them from the sky, and with which the inhabitants thanked them for the favor of giving them the water necessary to survive in the desert. The inhabitants of Nazca used to extract groundwater for their agricultural activities.

Tourists can take 35-minute flights by plane to appreciate all the designs. During the flight, the history of these mysterious lines is explained, including characters such as the astronaut, the whale, the condor and many hands, among others.

Huaca del Sol

On the northern coast of Peru, visitors find this impressive archaeological site which was a sanctuary of the Moche culture. It is a set of monuments that includes a large area where the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna pyramids are located, as well as a citadel that, at the time of its splendor, was inhabited only by the upper class of civilization. The largest pyramid in this place has a rectangular base and has five terraces where the ancient inhabitants carried out various administrative and political activities. The legend says that the city was built in just three days with the help of the gods.


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