Xochicalco *

* This name is listed on the World Heritage List. ª The region is classified by UNESCO.

18.803861111111 - 99.296416666667Koordinaten: 18 ° 48 ' 14 " N, 99 ° 17' 47 " W

Xochicalco [ ʃot͡ʃikaɬko ] is a pre-Columbian archaeological place in the western part of the state of Morelos in Mexico. The name comes from the Nahuatl language and means " At the location of the flower house ". The town is located 38 km southwest of Cuernavaca and 122 km from Mexico City.

Find site

Xochicalco consists of a large area with ceremonial buildings and residential complexes of the top layer on a natural hill with artificially terraced slopes and surrounding the entire hill fortification with complex doorways. The buildings on the top two terraces have been excavated since the 1990s and consolidated. The structure of Xochicalco is marked by large squares, which are usually limited by ceremonial, and brick streets. The earliest evidence of settlements ranging to 200 BC back, the most important architecture was built between 700 and 900 In its heyday, lived there maybe up to 20,000 people.

On the east neighboring hill ( Cerro de la Bodega ) is a small citadel located with three courtyards and surrounding wall, leading up to a paved and delineated with side walls street. Because of the clear demarcation ritual functions of the citadel is assumed with a not yet exposed temple probably for the god Quetzalcoatl. One of these plant surrounding incised into the rock ditch was not completed.

History of Research

The ruins were first mentioned by Bernardino de Sahagún in the late 16th century. A first description of his own experience was published in 1791 by the polymath José Antonio Alzate y Ramírez. Alexander von Humboldt published 1810 pictures and a description of Xochicalco. The Emperor Maximilian of Mexico visited the ruins. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent in 1910 was restored by archaeologist Leopoldo Batres the Mexican. Other archaeological excavations and restoration work occurred from 1934 to 1947 by Eduardo Noguera. Large-scale excavations and restorations of the whole area were carried out under the direction of Silvia Garza Tarazona and Norberto González Crespo 1984-1994.


The buildings of Xochicalco are located on multiple spatial scales of 120 meters above the valley floor towering hill. The flat surfaces of various levels have been achieved by embankments and cuttings, so to stabilize high, geböschte and clad with stone retaining walls were required. These were once covered with a painted stucco layer. All buildings are located within a ring wall, which was partially excavated and reconstructed on the southern slope of the mountain. There is also a passage through the gate from which leads a brick, only partially exposed way to the next level

Characteristic of the majority of the buildings in Xochicalco is a rectangular, often almost square ground plan with a broad, shared by most two brick pillars, entrance, which leads into a more or less narrow space, which extends over the entire width of the building. From there, a simple passage in the anteroom, from which it goes into the actual interior. The roof was probably made ​​of wood beams with a thick stone - and stucco pack. It was worn with appropriate span of wooden pillars, from which have often obtain traces in the stucco floor.

Southern Plaza

There, the Plaza is located between the two temples D and C. Both temples are constructed in mirror image. You lie on a pyramid base, which has the plaza on a brick staircase. At the level of the pyramid base are the actual temple, both of which feature a large entrance hall, which is accessible by a wide entrance, which is divided into three sections by two brick pillars. On the back wall is a narrow entrance to the temple proper space that is as wide as the anteroom but far less deep. In the center of the Plaza is a multi- extended lower base on which a stele with only two glyph is. The building is E (also called Gran Piramide ), which gives the impression of a high pyramid with broad stairs of the Plaza on the north side of the Plaza. In fact, it is the correspondingly shaped portion of the retaining wall of the third level, with three superimposed building structures in tablero - talud profile ( slope, above a turned countersunk vertical field, also in projecting a broad vertical band ) while the actual pyamidenartige construction of four equally designed building structures there. In the middle of the facade a wide staircase with wide stair stringers is. From the actual temple building on the top of this pyramid, only the few remains of the perimeter wall are obtained.

The Southern Plaza is bounded on the south by two almost exactly mirrored buildings of two rows of rooms on either side of a wide passage. This passage is reached by a wide staircase of a lower level (now an abandoned parking lot).

From this point performs a significantly inclined paved road to the west on the ball court one heads towards the palace and the powerful unausgegrabene Pyramid of Malinche. The palace is characterized by a confusing web of mostly very small rooms, entrances with two piers and

The big rise

From the northwest corner of the Southern Plaza leads to a passage structure: a central wall on both sides is a portico ( south with extra-wide wall panels ) upstream, and the central passageway through the wall is divided by two piers. On both sides of the northern portico remains of stairs are obtained, which led up to the roof of this building. This building limited access to the adjoining rectangular plaza. The Plaza was surrounded on two sides by the stepped slope of the uppermost levels. The embankment runs unexcavated on in the West. At various stages of the embankment itself in elongated buildings were with portico -like openings to the Plaza.

From Plaza led a monumental, only partially restored staircase with extra-wide stair stringers up to a paragraph. From this was reached by a continuation of stairs to a second passage structure and a square plaza. On the opposite side finally a narrower staircase to the top level and the present there through to building large leads Plaza.

Edge development

East of the Gran Piramide is located halfway up a remarkable building: To a slightly deeper rectangular courtyard located on all four sides portico -like rooms that open through formed by piers passages towards the courtyard. On the west side of the room number is spanned by a so-called flying staircase leading to the roof level. This was also the einziuge access to this complex, wadurch its special seclusion becomes clear.

Central Plaza

At the highest level of the mountain of Xochicalco is an irregular rectangular plaza, which is bounded on the east by a row of low buildings, run parallel to the enclosing wall at its edge. To the southeast is the Plaza of the building A, bounded on the south by an entrance building at the upper end of an incoming intermediate level of stairs. The input structure consists of a long rectangular room, the south of the monumental staircase of the enclosure has a wide entrance, which is divided by four thick Mauererpfeiler. The opposite the entrance to the plaza is only half as wide. In the West Plaza is completed from the Acropolis, a slightly higher accumulation of merging buildings. The boundary to the north is formed by the decay of the top enclosure. Just east of the center of the Plaza are two identical buildings in the plan. The south has become known for its facade decoration as Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, from the north only the undecorated exterior walls and minimal remains of an erstwhile upper temple building have been exposed.

Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent

The pyramid was never completely covered with soil and rubble, the relief remained largely visible, the building was in the early 20th century by Leopoldo Batres completely exposed and consolidated. It consists of two superposed building structures. The bottom is completely preserved, the facade has a higher sloped part of the talus (Spanish: Talud ) on. It is this part that is decorated to single pages with a total of eight tortuous feathered snakes in a raised stone relief. Between the coils are the representations are seated persons with elaboriertem headdress and language suggestive volute front of the face or calendrical signs with numerical coefficients in the bar point system. From the characters a high plume of smoke rises. The presentation can be a structural analogy to a folded manuscript of 4 sheets ( front and back ) suspect. About this sloped part projects a vertical surface (Spanish: Tablero ) something before, are embedded in the disjointed individual relief blocks. These blocks were found in the rubble of Batres and arbitrarily used. Only on the east side, the blocks are probably in original form exists and has been reattached. Likewise, at the entrance on the west side of the stone reliefs available in original storage that contain complex non - calendrical images written characters whose significance is unknown. When the wall is probably around the lower part ( talus ) of the wall, on which, as in the first stage, a lower vertical surface has eaten, hnter of the existing wooden beam roof was hidden. From the necessary for the roof Stuützen nothing is present in the interior. Excavations in the 1990s inside the pyramid predecessor was exposed, made like the pyramids C and D of an entrance hall and a main room, where the connection between the two is done by a wide passage which divided by two brick pillars in. Inside the main room, a low square platform was found.

The importance of the block has not yet been decrypted reliefs. To the left side the west side next to the cantilevered staircase located inside the coil of the spring snakes an enigmatic representation, which seems perhaps indicate a correlation between different calendar systems or a substitution of one system by another (more detailed ). Also on the right side next to the stairs to find calendrical signs, as well as at other points of the facade. A 28- day cycle is seems to be the distances more data to read.

  • Gallery characters on the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent

| Calendar mark with smoke trail

Nichtkalendarische characters

Nichtkalendarische characters

To the north next to the pyramid, there is another pyramid with the same floor plan, but apparently without cover with relief panels. Nevertheless, this is called the Pyramid of twin pyramid

Building A

The building occupies the southeast corner of the central plaza. In him the characterizing types of Xochicalco connect: The building is situated on a medium-high two-step pyramid platform to which you climb up from the west side on an almost the entire width of the base revenue- ligand stairs. Through a portico with double row of two or four pillars of elongated floor plan leads to the somewhat deliver the courtyard below. In the south and north are rectangular rooms. To the east stands on a low base of the pyramid in a central, square temple. In it, a walled rectangular cavity was found in the excavation, in which the three steles were in a broken condition, covered all over with red cinnabar. One can certainly speak rightly of a ritual burial here.

To the south of the building is called the Salón Sureste, in the rich offerings, including large sea snail shells were found, which were also dusted red. It seems as if these offerings were laid before this building was deliberately destroyed.

Building B

Just north of the building then A lies on the eastern slope edge of the uppermost levels of a approximately 90 long deeply nested structure, the living area of the upper class has been ( a palace ) undoubtedly. We can distinguish three units. The middle has a wide portico to the Plaza, which is formed by about 6 brick pillars, of which a central passageway leads into a rectangular room with Impluvium, which is surrounded by a handling pillars. From there, in three rooms, the middle rejoins a portico to the east. The side rooms have connections with the other parts of the building, with the southern turn has a leading Plaza portico. The whole plant with Impluvium and Pfeilerumgänge far strong similarities with comparable investments in Teotihuacan.


Under various names, a complex building is known that completes the central plaza to the west. From the Plaza, it gives the impression of a very broad low pyramid base, which had however is the highest level of Xochicalco. We can distinguish several separate units:

  • Small plaza with two larger buildings on the south and north sides, which have the typical pattern described in construction, as well as a narrow building on the east side. There are small, nested spaces at the corners of the plaza.
  • West then there is a long rectangular mirror image constructed complex is arranged around a small room with Impluvium. The entrances to the rooms are divided two times by brick pillars. The further the spaces are removed from the Impluvium, the higher the floor.
  • The largest complex is denied by the West, he is also designed mirror image. In the middle is a small Impluvium lead in all four directions of the passages in rooms that are east and west very small, north and south unusually large. The ceiling was once worn by piers. Remarkable in a corner a brick staircase that must have led up to the roof. A nearly identical complex is slightly lower then north.

Other complexes are also situated on a slightly lower level in the west and south.

From the location and structurally it might well have been the residence of the local rulers. Occur in pairs that several buildings that could point to a splitting of the respective ancestry.

Eastern Plaza

At the second level east of the great Plaza are large farms that are partially surrounded by portico halls. Three medium-sized pyramids found at their east side with poorly preserved temple room. Further east lies parallel to the second ball court. Noteworthy is a ramp whose well-preserved stone pavement shows various animals in low relief.

Ball courts

Xochicalco has three ball courts. The largest is at the lowest level to the west of the mountain front of the pyramid of La Malinche. He has relatively flat lateral Schrängen and low reflective surfaces and a wide Spielgasse. At the ball court leads from the higher level a wide brick ramp. The second ball court is located at the middle level east of the hilltop and has similar characteristics. The third ball court is based in the north of the perimeter wall of the third level, which is practically the southern reflective wall of the east- west trending ball court forms, while the northern reflective wall is a separate building, leading up to the narrow concrete stairs. All ball courts possessed large monolithic ballgame rings with reliefs.

  • Gallery ball courts

Ball court 1

Ball court 2

Ball court 3


In Xochicalco several detached decorated stelae were found. Only one ( Estela de los dos glifos ) is still in its original location in the middle of a square between the temple buildings Estructura C and D Estructura and south of Estructura E. Three other stelae were in broken condition in a brick underground chamber of Estructura A covered all over with red ocher, discovered. Evidence of finds that this is a ritual burial of the stelae. The steles are now in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City. A number of inscribed stones are in the local museum.


A natural cave has been expanded with artificial internals to an astronomical observatory, and was mainly used to determine the beginning of the agricultural cycle. This is one of the best preserved observatories in Mexico. It was originally covered with stucco and painted with black, yellow and red. With the help of an artificially walled chimney was observed at night the stars that passed the zenith. At that time this was done twice a year: in mid-March and the end of July. Direct sunlight falls into the cave over a period of 105 days from late April to mid-August. For 260 days stay out of direct sunlight.

  • Gallery Observatory

Access to the observatory chamber

The sun shines into the bay


Xochicalco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist attraction. Near the archaeological site there is a small museum. As an architectural highlight of the museum is the glass wall of the main exhibition hall, through which one looks like a picture on the entire excavation site. The site is open to visitors daily 10-17 clock, access to the observatory is permitted only in the afternoon.