El Tajin, The Thunder City and Papantla

El Tajin, The Thunder City and Papantla

I want to show you El Tajin Ruins, a pre-Columbian archaeological site that was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It is believed that it was the capital of the Totonac Empire, which has survived to show the greatness and importance of pre-Hispanic cultures in Mexico.

How to visit El Tajin and Papantla 

El Tajin and Papantla are located in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. It will only take you a few minutes to get from Tajin ruins to Papantla.

For me, the best way to explore those beautiful places is to stay in Poza Rica or Veracruz city; not far and easy to explore.

Poza Rica is a bigger city where you can find a greater variety of hotels with different prices and all the amenities. The journey from Poza Rica or Veracruz City can be done by hiring a tour that takes you to El Tajin and Papantla or doing it in your own way.

Archaeological site and the best things to do at El Tajin at Veracruz, Mexico
Green and beautiful Tajin.

Either option is good, it just depends on what you prefer. Sometimes is great to have a Guide that helps us with history, legends, facts and important information about the site.

If you decide to take a tour of Tajin ruins and Papantla, there are many options in Veracruz. Most of them are similar, but my advice is to ask about the schedules, the things that include and the language. And if you decide to do it on your own, it’s so easy. You can take a bus from Poza Rica to Tajin or a taxi, it’s cheap and you be there in a few minutes.

And the same thing from Tajin to Papantla, it’s simple and you can enjoy all day taking your time for the journey.

The well preserved Ruins at El Tajin, UNESCO site in Veracruz, Mexico
It is impressive how well preserved the ruins are.

Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).

El Tajin Ruins, Archaeological Site, and Museum

The entrance to El Tajin includes the visit to the museum. The place opens 9 to 5, and as always, my advice is that you arrive as early as possible, to avoid the heat and the excess of tourists! You can buy tickets for El Tajin and Papantla and visit these two fantastic places in a single Day Tour.

The museum of Tajin helps to understand Tajin City, as well as its rituals, the ball game and all around this marvelous place in Mexico.

Do not forget sunblock, mosquito repellent, a hat, and comfortable shoes!

El Tajin Pyramids, archaeological site and museum in Veracruz, Mexico
You’ll love El Tajin!

History About El Tajin

El Tajin is also known as The Thunder City because Tajin means Thunder in Toltec language. The City started around AD 100, flourished from AD 600 to 1200 and later it was abandoned.

The first thing we can appreciate at the entrance is the Papantla Flyers, a mix between ritual, dance and a pole 23 meters high.

It calculates 150 buildings of which they have been restored around 20, the rest remains buried between the mountains.

Papantla Flyers a UNESCO Heritage at El Tajin and Papantla Veracruz, Mexico
The amazing Papantla Flyers.


El Tajin Archaeological site, ruins and Pyramids in Papantla, Veracruz Mexico
Marvelous view of the ruins.

The Pyramid of the Niches

It is the most important construction in El Tajin, with its 25 meters high and 365 niches that remind us of the importance of the calendar for these cultures. The niches imitate caves, which have been considered passages to the underworld.

For me, it’s one of the most impressive pyramids in Mexico. 

The most important, Pyramid of the Niches at Veracruz, Mexico
The marvelous Pyramid of the Niches.
The best pyramid at the Archaeological site and ruins of El Tajin Veracruz, Mexico
The details of the niches are amazing.

The Ancient Ball Game  

At Tajin there are two impressive ball courts of the Ancient Ball Game.

The walls of the court have decorations that make think that the winners killed one of the members of the losing team with an obsidian knife, who considered it an honorable way to die.

Beautiful green view of the UNESCO ruins site in Veracruz, Mexico
Sunny and beautiful day to explore El Tajin.

Cumbre Tajin Event, Mexico

Cumbre Tajin is a cultural festival made to preserve and spread the cultural and archaeological wealth of the Sacred City of El Tajin.

You can appreciate ceremonies, rituals, concerts, dances, conferences, exhibitions and more.

Pyramid of the Niches at Veracruz, Mexico
Pyramid of the Niches at Cumbre Tajin.

It is an annual event for the whole family, which takes place during the Spring Equinox. Since it is an event that attracts worldwide tourists, it is very important that you make reservations in advance.

Cumbre Tajin the International light and music event in Mexico
Cumbre Tajin at Night.

Papantla Veracruz

It is with pride one of the Magic Towns that you can find in Mexico. In this small city, you can enjoy museums, the beautiful chapel, the parish, the murals and of course delicious Mexican food.

Something you can’t miss is to try the famous and aromatic Papantla Vanilla, which you can taste at ice cream, desserts or even meals.

If you love Archaeological sites, history, traditions, beautiful small cities, folklore and of course delicious Mexican food, you should visit El Tajin Ruins and Papantla.

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[…] El Tajin and Papantla […]

Soumya Gayatri
1 year ago

I love ruins, absolutely. I have been to Mexico a couple of times but never heard of El Tajin. This was a remarkable post. The pyramid of niches looks very interesting. On my bucket list now.

1 year ago

Wow! 150 buildings and only 20 has been restored?! The reason why I love MX. That’s amazing history right there. Visiting the information center is a great idea to learn more about the place.

1 year ago

Your posts about the ruins made me realize about how amazing Mexico is! I’m blown away by how many ruins are discovered and how many more remains to be discovered.

The Pyramid of the Niches is stunning! Wow! The great mayan civilization are the true architects and engineers without any help from modern technologies.

Your post is always informative and a great tool if you even want to explore more beyond the touristy places in Mexico.


[…] El Tajin and Papantla […]