The Ruins of Zempoala

Headed north on Hwy. 180 toward Papantla, you'll pass by the village of Antigua, 22km (14 miles) north of the port of Veracruz. It's not very well known today, but for 75 years beginning in 1525, it was the main port used by the Spanish. The village is known locally for its seafood restaurants and is especially popular on weekends.

Continuing north, you come to the ruins of Zempoala, 40km (25 miles) north of Veracruz. The ruins are surrounded by lush foliage. Though not as large as the site of El Tajín, they're still noteworthy. Zempoala was the principal city of the Totonac at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The name means "place of the 20 waters," for the several creeks that meander by the site.

Zempoala is a late post-Classic city. Most of the buildings date from the 14th century. The Great Temple is constructed in the Aztec style. The Temple of Quetzalcóatl, the feathered serpent god, is also of central Mexican design, and the Temple of Ehecatl, god of the wind, is (as usual) round. On weekends and during vacation months, you're likely to find a group of the famous voladores (flyers) from Papantla performing their acrobatic ritual.

Admission to the archaeological site is 45 pesos; it's open daily from 9am to 5pm. A video camera permit costs 35 pesos.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.