Mexico’s Valley of the Virgin, an area in Mexico’s central highlands about 30 miles outside San Miguel de Allende, offers researchers a chance to learn about the Otomi people who lived and flourished in the region approximately 1000 years ago.
Travelers visit the area to see the mysterious pyramids that the Otomis constructed as part of their studies of astronomical criteria, agricultural cycles, and religious beliefs.
The Grande Vegas casino bonuses invite gaming aficionados and other travelers a chance to learn more about this Laja River Valley site where tribespeople succeeded in creating massive pyramids whose construction defies explanation till today.
Cañada de La Virgen
Cañada de La Virgen (The Valley of the Virgin) features stone pyramids that blend into the arid landscape like a mini mountain range. The pyramids attract visitors who are fascinated by their skilled masonry and hidden secrets.
The pyramids of the Otomi aren’t the oldest pyramids in Mexico or even the most extensive. The oldest known pyramid of Mexico is the Great Pyramid of La Venta which is located in the state of Tabasco and was built around 900 B.C.E. The structure, which was built of clay, is 100 feet tall. Historians say that this pyramid is one of the most sophisticated pyramids ever excavated. There are also Mayan pyramids located in Chichen Itza and Coba and Aztec pyramids in Xochicalco in the state of Morelos.
But for a journey into a secretive ancient Mexican civilization whose beliefs and practices continue to mystify modern-day researchers, the pyramids of Cañada de La Virgen are a don’t-miss journey into the past.
Cañada de La Virgen Pyramids
When you approach the Cañada de La Virgen pyramids site you’ll see three structures. The ruins, which were only excavated beginning in 2002, were known to locals throughout the ages. Rumors flew including stories of hidden gold and of dead people buried within the pyramid structures. Long before the archaeologists arrived, grave diggers had looted the structures but there’s no record of them having found any treasures.
The tallest pyramid is known as The House of the Thirteen Heavens and was built approximately 540 C.E. When approaching this pyramid one immediately notices the staircase that leads up to its flat platform top which is covered by tufa rock that was mined in a nearby quarry.
The two smaller pyramids are known respectively as The House of the Longest Night and The House of the Wind. Researchers believe that they still have a lot to learn about these three structures but they do know that The House of the Thirteen Heavens was a temple which was dedicated to time- and season-keeping which they accomplished by observing the celestial bodies in the sky.
The House of the Thirteen Heavens was built using sophisticated architectural techniques and materials. It was used as a calendrical instrument for the society which, based on the sun’s movements throughout the year, was able to identify important dates for agriculture.
It’s clear that these ancient timekeepers had a keen understanding of architecture, construction, and astronomical principles. While other pre-Columbian cultures built temples to worship deities, this society worshipped the creation of time and space.
The Otomis’ architectural design for the pyramids was meant to mimic what happened during the creation of the world as they believed it to have happened. Researchers rely heavily on the indigenous oral history of the region to fill in the blanks. Through their recordings of the oral history of the region’s current residents, they have established an explanation for the pyramids.
The Otomis, researchers believe, saw the sacred entities that created the world, life, space, and the Sun as having given humans a reference for telling time. They were trying to replicate the organization of creation on Earth by first organizing the four corners of the world and then following the Sun as it moved throughout all four corners during the year.
The four corners of the House of the Thirteen Heavens corresponded to summer and winter solstices (June 22 and December 21) and to the dates when it was believed to be most propitious to plant and harvest — 4 March and 9 October. When you ascend the stairs of the House of the Thirteen Heavens and stand by the front of the pyramid’s staircase on each of those four days, you’ll see the sun perfectly line up with the corresponding corner.
Prickly Pear Juice
The pyramid builders used prickly pear juice as a natural glue and positioned the rough tufa rocks by Hueso — in a way that enabled each piece to support the others. In ancient times the staircases and facades were beautifully decorated with polished limestone that they brought in from miles away. Archaeologists found that the pyramids once held valuable items and they’ve found skeletons of 19 bodies, giving substance to the legends told by 21st-century locals. The body at the top is estimated to have been preserved and carried by the Otomis for 950 years before it was buried in the pyramid, indicating that she was an important ancestor.
DNA from the bodies indicates genetic similarities with several other Mexican nations, including the Mayas, the Nahuas, the Tarahumara and the Purépecha which leads historians to speculate that the site was a gathering place where people from cultures from throughout Mexico came to congregate.