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  • (worth a detour)
  • 5-10 km
  • Easy
  • Low
  • full day
  • 2 2

A mixture of colonial architecture and Aztec ruins

Try Malinalco's local bread sold at the main market and several bakeries around the village
You are not allowed to go inside the temple and it can only be seen from outside. However, if you'd like to get a better idea of what it looks like inside, you can do so by entering a replica in the site's museum located just outside.

Malinalco is a tiny village located 115 kilometers southwest of Mexico City in the State of Mexico. It homes the second most visited shrine in Mexico, exquisite colonial architecture and breath-taking pre-Columbian ruins. The village is surrounded by cliffs, its houses are mostly made of adobe decorated with red roofs and the streets are paved with cobblestones. The village is heavily associated with magic and sorcery due to a legend behind it that says that Huitzilopochtl, a god, abandoned his sister, Malinalxochitl,  in the middle of the forest, due to her witchcraft practices and after waking up alone, she united her tribe of followers and settled in a piece of land that now is known as Malinalco.


The area shows influences from many cultures such as Teotihuacan, Toltecs and Aztecs but little to nothing is known about its first inhabitants that are believed to have lived there around the Classic era. It is, however, theorized that the first tribe to live here were the Culhaus, followed by the Matlazincas, the Ocuiltecos and the Otomis before the Aztecs arrived and colonized the area.


Cuauhtinchan Archeological Zone

Malinalco’s archeological zone was discovered in 1933 and is quite possibly the main reason tourists visit the village. The ruins are located on a hill called Cerro de Los ídolos surrounded by pre-Hispanic structures. The main and biggest structure is located at the very top of the hill and it is believed to have been built by the Aztecs.


In order to get to the hill, visitors must climb a rough estimate of four hundred stairs and follow the sings that lead to the site.


The Cuauhcalli is the main building and it was carved out of the hill. This building was used as a sanctuary for warriors and rites of initiation. The entrance depicts the open jaws of a snake with its tongue painted red.


Inside the entrance, there is a sculpture of a snake’s head, a sculpture in the shape of a pedestal that symbolized a war drum, the remains of a sculpture of a warrior, a sculpture of a cpipacti (a monster) holding up the feet of a person, and a bench with four more sculptures of a jaguar and three eagles with a sacred vessel to put the hears of sacrificed victims in.


Other points of interest around the village include:


The Ex-Monastery of Divino Salvador, an Augustine monastery built between the year 1540 and 1560 to be the center of evangelization in the area. The interior of the monastery includes murals that date back to the 16th century, one of them depicts the Garden of Eden in an Aztec context.


The Casa de la Cultura, a cultural center located in the center of the town. The place hosts different exhibitions throughout the year and many cultural events.


Galería Tlakuikani, a gallery exposing contemporary art created exclusively by locals from the State of Mexico, focusing primarily on oil paintings and wood carvings.

Opening hours

8:00 - 17:00

Closed on Mondays

How to get there

Buses from Mexico City leave quite frequently towards Malinalco from Observatorio terminal

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