Cañada de la Virgen, Guanajuato is a pre-Columbian archaeological site about 30 miles outside of San Miguel de Allende. It was only recently discovered in the 1980’s and opened to the public in February of 2011.
Located on INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) private property, it is protected by the Mexican government for the research, preservation, and promotion of the prehistoric and archaeological heritage of Mexico.
Perched upon a mesa surrounded by deep canyons, it is made up of four pyramid complexes, constructed by the Tolteca-Chichimecas Indians. The 16 hectares and surrounding topography are impressive and expansive, giving you a bird’s eye view of life in the high-desert plains of Central Mexico.
We got on the road around noon and made it in time for the 1:00 tour. Tickets were 30 pesos each for adults and 10 pesos for 12 and under, translating to about six dollars and ten cents for a family of four!
Not a bad deal for a guided bus ride from the entrance where tickets are purchased to the base of the pyramid AND a personal tour guide, Rafael, who led us on foot around the grounds and onto the pyramid itself, providing lots of historical information of the region, the native plants, and the plans for further excavation.
Interestingly enough, according to Rafael, it wasn’t archaeologists, satellite or high government officials that first discovered the pyramids of Cañada de la Virgen— it was the local people themselves who were working and toiling the land, that when putting their tools into the dirt to prepare it for that season’s harvest, discovered something much more than plants and soil!
The 10 minute bus ride drops you off at the bottom of the mesa and by foot you make your way up a steep cobblestone path, about 3/4 of a mile walk, with a worthwhile reward of being greeted by a beautiful view, a native plant garden and the main pyramid itself.
The views along the walk were spectacular…
Almost there, we take a rest stop under a little palapa while we wait for the rest of the group to make their way up.
Once the entire group was gathered under the palapa, Rafael our tour guide began to share with us the history of the site and what we could expect to see above on top of the mesa.
After a 10 minute rest, we made our way to the top of the ridge, right at the foot of the pyramid, full of anticipation, but needing to stop at the all important site map.
But just in case you got side-tracked and separated from the group, there were these helpful little signs to guide your way:
It was so interesting to learn about all of the many different indigenous plants of this region of Central Mexico and how the Mesoamericans used them to treat various ailments. For example, the “Flor de San Pedro” is a plant mainly used for treatment of diabetes, digestive and skin issues, such as hives—or even as an antidote to a scorpion sting.
Nature provides, if you just allow her to. I was grateful to have this important reminder.
After touring the grounds and getting a good sense of the layout of the ruins, we at last made our way to the main pyramid itself—much anticipated and patiently waited for by The Reds! The view from atop was spectacular!
On one side of the pyramid:
And the other:
If you have the opportunity to visit Cañada de la Virgen in the state of Guanajuato , I would say it is a worthwhile, enjoyable outing with lots of historical and geographical information to be learned.
1. Bring plenty of water.
2. Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes.
3. Wear sunscreen.
4. Bags, backpacks, purses, etc. are not allowed unless you need to carry medicines on you.
5. The tour with bus ride takes about 3 hours, so make sure you have eaten before heading out.
6. Have fun, keep an open mind and enjoy the experience!
Of the many things that I admire about the Mexican culture and her people, it is their perseverance and pride, their hardiness, honor, and alignment with their family and their roots. Spending the day at Cañada de la Virgen was a wonderful opportunity to walk a part of this country’s vibrant and dynamic history.
If you have any thoughts or questions you would like to share, please do so in the comments section below and I will get back to you just as soon as possible!
Cheers and stay tuned for the next adventure of Los O’Gradys in Mexico!