Cempoala—a name that means “the place of twenty waters”—is a set of ancient ruins in the heart of Ursulo Galvan that was once inhabited by the Totonac, Zapotec and Chinantecas people. This historic district’s name came from the aqueducts and irrigation systems that once flowed to the nearby gardens and fertile farmland. Travelers can explore the numerous temples that comprise the Zona Arqueologica de Cempoala, an archaeological site that includes a few landmarks that are not to be missed.
Templo las Caritas, the temple of charity, is a two-story structure decorated by hundreds of stucco skulls that pays homage to the god of death. Ornate murals and detailed clay faces, as well as a hall of hieroglyphs, make it a unique place for travelers to touch the ancient past. Templo del Sol, also known as the great pyramid, is similar to the Sun Temple in Tenochtitlan. It’s built on the same ground as the Templo Mayor and affords beautiful views of Cempoala.
Cempoala is about 26 miles northwest of Veracruz City. Buses depart daily from the main station. The ruins are located between Hernan Cortes Nte. and Carmen Viveros Cruze, north of Miguel Hidalgo.