Mexico // Mexico City //

Santa Cecilia Acatitlán

The pyramid at Santa Cecilia Acatitlán is much smaller and simpler than that at Tenayuca, but it’s been wholly restored and is remarkably beautiful with its clean lines. When first encountered by the Spanish, this was a temple with a double staircase very similar to the others, but the outer structure was stripped away during excavation to reveal an earlier, well-preserved building inside. It’s a very plain structure, rising in four steps to a single-roofed shrine approached by a ramped stairway. The studded decorations around the roof represent either skulls or stars. You approach the pyramid through a small museum in a colonial house, whose displays of finds from the site and elsewhere include an Aztec incense burner and a reconstructed nineteenth-century kitchen; in the garden just outside, you are greeted by a large, inanely grinning stone skull.