Crowne Plaza Crowne Plaza

Zempoala Archaeological Ruins

Veracruz, Mexico
Travel & Tour
Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.

George & Eve DeLange

Google Map To Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico.

no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!


View Larger Map

Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico: The name means "place of the 20 waters," for the several rivers that converge near the site. At the time of the Conquest, Zempoala (also spelled "Cempoala") was the Totonac capital and the largest city on the Gulf of Mexico, with a population of about 30,000. Zempoala was the first large Mesoamerican center visited by Europeans and the place where Cortes met his first important native ally, "Xicomecoatl", better known as the "Fat Chief." Only a small part of the main ceremonial area of the site has been restored. Zempoala is an important place where history was made. The uniting of Spanish, European, and the Native American cultures that became modern Mexico could be said to have their beginnings in Zempoala.

Most of the buildings at Zempoala date from the 14th and 15th centuries,during the Late Post-Classic Era. The area was populated at least 1,500 years earlier and there are indications of an Olmec influence. The Preclassic settlements were built on mounds to protect them from floods. Not much is really known about what went on during the Preclassic and Classic Era

The Great Temple resembles the Temple of the Sun at Tenochtitlán. The Temple of the Little Faces is decorated with stuccoed faces in the walls and hieroglyphs painted on the lower sections. The Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god, is a square platform, and the Temple of Ehecatl, god of the wind, is round which is normal.

Zempoala lies on the flat coastal plain about six kilometers from the Gulf and a little more than a kilometer from the banks of the Rio Actopan River (also called the Rio Chachalacas).

The Totonacs moved onto this coastal plain during the height of the Toltec empire (A.D. 1000-1150). Archaeologists believe the Toltecs had pushed the Totonacs out of their settlements on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre Oriental and down to the coast.

In the mid-15th century, Zempoala and many other coastal Veracruz centers were attacked and defeated by the Aztec armies of Motecuhzoma 1. They were assessed a heavy tribute in both goods and victims for sacrifice. This treatment at the hands of the Aztecs created the situation which led up to the defeat of the Aztecs by Cortez in the 16th century.

By the time Cortes and his forces arrived on the Veracruz coast in 1519, the Totonacs had been suffering for several years under the Aztec domination.

As the Spaniards marched north from their malaria-ridden first camp at San Juan de Ulua" they heard of a town on the way named Zempoala. They sent word of their impending arrival, and they were met on the outskirts of town by 20 Zempoalan dignitaries.

In the center of town, they met with the "Fat Chief, Xicomecoatl", who fed them and gave them quarters. After the Totonac presented Cortez with numerous gifts, including gold jewelry, Cortez how he could repay this hospitality.

Xicomecoatl is said to have heaved a deep sigh and broke into many bitter complaints against the great Montezuma.

Cortez then promised to consider the matter and the next day Cortez departed for Quiahuiztlan, where the Spaniards and Totonacs then forged their momentous alliance against the Aztecs.

The Totonacs were now committed to the same fate as the Spaniards'. In August of 1519, Cortez and his men set out with 40 Totonac warriors and 200 porters for the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. During the next few months, they won one victory after another through both force and guile. They eventually ended up in the heart of Tenochtitlan with Motecuhzoma II, the Aztec emperor, as their hostage.

When we toured the site we were able to observe some of the major sights of the ceremonial precinct. Beyond this area, however, there are dozens of temples. Paths into the sugarcane fields to the north and east lead into several secondary precincts which we did not visit which contain numerous structures, some of which have been restored.

The so-called Temple of Charity standing about 200 meters to the east is a two-tier structure decorated with fragments of stucco reliefs. It is named for the hundreds of stucco skulls that once adorned the facade of a small structure at the base of the temple's staircase-archaeologists believe this complex was dedicated to the god of death.

More, largely unexcavated, mounds that we did not visit lie among the houses in the town of Zempoala. Some of the humbler structures here are built in the same style-thatched roof and wood and adobe walls as were the residences of the pre-Hispanic proletariat.

Some research by Vincent H. Malmström of Dartmouth College describes an interesting astronomical relationship that exists because of the three round rings found at Zempoala. We will quote a part of his discussion concerning the Three Ceremonial Rings Of Zempoala.

"In the central plaza of Zempoala, just beneath the massive pyramids that frame its northeastern corner, are three intriguing rings of stone, each fashioned of rounded beach cobbles cemented together to form a series of small, stepped pillars. The largest of the rings contains 40 of the stepped pillars, the middle-sized ring has 28 such features, and the smallest ring numbers 13 stepped pillars around its circumference. It would appear that the three rings were used to calibrate different astronomical cycles, possibly by moving a marker or an idol from one stepped pillar to the next with each passing day (in somewhat the same way that has been suggested for recording the passage of time at the Pyramid of the Niches).

The three stone rings of Zempoala as viewed from the top of the main pyramid. Inasmuch as the three rings are surmounted by 13, 28, and 40 steplike pillars, respectively, it appears that they were used by the Totonac priests as counting devices to keep track of eclipse cycles.

It is, therefore, quite possible that by using the three rings together, the Totonac priests were able to calibrate the movements of the moon closely enough so as to know when it might next be (devoured.) In any event, there is every reason to believe that the three stone rings of Zempoala afford yet another bit of evidence testifying to the intellectual curiosity and architectural ingenuity of the early Mesoamericans."

The museum, and restrooms are clean. We were here on January 21, 2004 at about 2:30PM.

You can fly near to Zempoala by flying into the General Heriberto Jara International Airport, also called the Veracruz International Airport (IATA: VER, ICAO: MMVR) which is the international airport located at Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico. It handles national and international air traffic for the city of Veracruz. Zempoala is about 26 miles northwest of Veracruz City.

There is also bus service from Veracruz to Zempoala, (also written as Cempoala).

We suggest getting a hotel in Veracruz and then letting them arrange either a car or a tour of Zempoala. If you call their Concierge Services ahead of your arrival, all of this can be pre-arranged for you.

We do this all the time, when traveling in Mexico. It is safe and it works!!! We have never experienced a problem doing it this way!

We have links to Priceline.com on this page so you can make your flight and hotel arrangements.

no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!

Ceremonial Stone Ring. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
The Largest Of "The Three Ceremonial Rings Of Zempoala"
It Is Said That Cortez And His Men Camped Inside This Ring

Ceremonial Stone Rings. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
The Smaller Two Of "The Three Ceremonial Rings Of Zempoala"
The Three Rings Are
In The North East Corner Of The Pyramid Complex

no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!

Site Entrance. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Gift Shop. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
The Official
Site Entrance Located
On South Side Of
The Excavated Area
Grocery Store
And Gift Shop
Across Street
From Site Entrance
Museum. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Large Stone Ring. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Zempoala Site Museum
On Left
View Of Museum &
Large Stone Ring
Grand Plaza. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Pyramids. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Looking NE
Into Grand Plaza
From NE
Of The Museum
Pyramids In NE
Corner Of Plaza
Platform. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Platform. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Platform Running
North And South
Of "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Platform Running
North And South
Of "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Grand Plaza. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Great Temple. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Looking NW
Across Grand Plaza
From NE Corner
North Pyramid
Called "Great Temple"
Great Temple. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Great Temple. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Great Temple Located Center
North End Of Quadrangle
Great Temple Is Oldest
Most Importand Temple
Also Panfil Narvaez
Fought Cortez Here
Audrey DeLange On Top Of Temple Of The Chimney's. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Temple Of The Chimney's. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
East Of "Great Temple" Is
Audrey DeLange
On Top Of
"Temple Of The Chimney's"
South Side "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Rock Structures On Top
Look Like Chimney's
Temple Of The Chimney's. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Temple Of The Chimney's. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
SE Corner "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Original Stucco
On The South Side
"Temple Of
The Chimney's"
Stone Columns. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Floor Structure. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Stone Columns
Look Like Chimneys
Top Of "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Floor Structure
"Temple Of
The Chimney's"
Rectangular Platform. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Stairway. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Rectangular Platform &
Four Columns
In Front Of "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Stairway On West Side
Front Of "Temple
Of The Chimney's"
Altars. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Altars. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Altars In Front Of
And West Of
"Temple
Of The Chimney's"
This Altar Is
Probably Aligned To
The Winter Solstice
Flood Wall. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Flood Wall. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Stairway Over Protective Wall
Surrounding The
Zempoala Quadrangle
The Surrounding Wall
Protects Quadrangle Area
From Floods
Of The Rio Actopan
Great Pyramid. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Great Pyramid. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
The Quadrangle
And Great Pyramid
Make A Left When
Walking Past
The Museum
Great Pyramid Is
Located In
SW Corner Of
The Quadrangle
This Other Pyramid Is
North Of Great Pyramid
Wind God Temple. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Wind God Temple. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Temple Of The
"Wind God"
Located South Of
Great Pyramid
Wind God Temple
Structure. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.Structure. Zempoala Archaeological Ruins, Veracruz, Mexico. Travel & Tour Pictures, Photos, Information, Images & Reviews.
Small Structure NW Corner
Of Quadrangle
Closer View Of
Small Structure

no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!

Spanish Holiday Inn Site Spanish Holiday Inn Site Spanish Crowne Plaza Spanish Crowne Plaza Holiday Inn Express - Spanish Holiday Inn Express - Spanish





Click Here On Links To Great Mexico Hotels.




We Are Proud Of Our SafeSurf Rating!

Click On Any Of The Following Links By Amazon.Com
For Books Or Videos About Touring In Mexico. No Obligation!

no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!



no one deals like we do! no one deals like we do!

Other Nearby Veracruz, Zempoala &
Quiahuiztlan Archaeological Site Pages!

Zempoala Museum Page

Quiahuiztlan Archaeological Site Page

Back To Mexico Trips Main Page

Back To DeLange Home Page