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Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-10-05 22:13:18 | Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico
Keywords: pre-Columbian, UNESCO
The site of Paquimé was an important centre for commerce between Mexico (coastal and south) and the pueblos of southwestern USA. The site was occupied most importantly from around year 700 to year 1475. The site was then deserted, and to this day it remains a mystery as to why. The site of Paquimé is one of the most extensive Pre-Columbian site in Mexico and the most Northern one by far.

During its apogee in the 14th and 15th centuries, the population of Paquimé was estimated to be well over 10 000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities in the world in that era. The researches on the site helped identify more than 2 000 rooms, housing homes for people, but also shops of all kinds. The construction was done in large complexes, in order to facilitate its defence against enemy tribes. The structures were mostly done of adobe (unfired clay)... with some rocks used for some specific elements like exterior walls or special religious constructions.

The area is well organized and portrays the urban structure as it was used back then. There are sections for housing and shops, there are other sections for religious buildings (the inhabitants were polytheists) and there's even a section for communication (with smoke signals) with other distant tribes. Most structures have only one level, and were built on the ground level. There are some specialized ones that were built half underground, or with a deep fire pit in the centre of the building to cook some agave plants.

Most of the site is still underground to protect it, but parts of it was unearthed for visitors. There are about 35,000 people visiting this site annually. Based on its importance and relative proximity to the US, I was expecting much more people... but it's true the site doesn't have much Internet visibility. I went there early this morning and I was the only visitor for the two hours I was there... having the site to myself, and a few workers applying a new layer of adobe in some sections.

There is no guide on site, but everything is well explained on the site and on the museum, all those information panels are bilingual (Spanish/English), so you don't need to read Spanish to appreciate the richness of the history before your eyes. The museum also have bathrooms and a small cafe where you can sit, rest a bit, and enjoy a light snack. The whole tour of the site along the path is about 1,5 km, and can be done in about 45-60 minutes.

The ruins are located in the town of Casas Grandes, just about 5km from Nuevo Casas Grandes. The latter is a much larger city with a wide selection of accommodations. You don't need a car, just take the yellow bus from the new town and in about 35 minutes, you'll arrive in the old town main plaza. From there, a short walk (about 1.5 km) will get you to the site. The bus runs about every hour (no real schedule available) and cost only 7,50 pesos (about US$0,60) each way.

Related posts:
What I've seen in Mexico
Ouro Preto
Modern Ensemble of Pampulha
Isla de la plata


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