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Xochicalco is a Pre-Columbian archeological site in the western part of the Morelos, Mexico. The name "Xochicalco" means "House of the Flowers" in the Nahuatl language. The site is located 38 km southwest of Cuernavaca, about 76 miles by road from Mexico City, at 1848' North, 9917' West.

The Site

The main ceremonial center is atop an artificially leveled hill, with remains of subsidiary buildings, mostly unexcavated, in the surounding area.

The site was occupied by 200 BC, with the most notable architecture built between about 700 and 1000 AD. At its peak, the city may have had a population of up to 20,000 people.


Of special interest are sculptured reliefs on the sides of some buildings. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent has fine stylized depictions of that deity in a style which includes apparent influences of Teotihuacan and Maya art. It has been speculated that Xochicalco may have had a community of artists for other parts of Mesoamerica.

Other monuments at the site include several other step-pyramid temples, palaces, two ball courts, sweat-baths, an unusual row of circular altars, and a cave with steps carved down into it. The site also has some free-standing sculptured stelae; others were removed from their original location and are now on display in the INAH museum in Mexico City and at the site museum.

Modern History of Xochicalco

The ruins were first described by explorer Antonio Alzate in 1777. Alexander von Humboldt published illustrations and a description of Xochicalco in 1810. Emperor Maximilian of Mexico visited the ruins. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent was restored by Mexican archeologist Leopoldo Batres in 1910. Major archeological excavations and further restorations were done in a project from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Xochicalco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist destination. The site has a small museum.

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