We decided to take a combi (public transport van) with a friend and spend the afternoon exploring Tzintzuntzan (pronounced “sen SOON san”, the ruins, ancient olive trees at the monastery grounds and scope out some of the food and artisan vendors.
The drive through the countryside just north of Patzcuaro was stunning…verdant green with amazing views of the lake. The combi dropped us off on the main drag and it was about a 4-5 block walk up the hill to the site of the ruins. The pyramids got our attention because the rounded shape of some areas are pretty unusual. This was thought to be the main ceremonial site for the P’urhépecha and it’s said that not only were the structures hollow, but wooden buildings were built on top of the stone bases.
One of the main features were the carved glyphs and symbols on some stones. We were surprised to see so many spirals in the glyphs! Some of the carvings represented people and animals. The museum contained many artifacts found on the site, both locally crafted and also imported via trade. Clay items were a highlight and also many decorated miniature clay items… something that can still be found/purchased at local artisan markets.
After a thorough visit to the ruins we made our way back down the hill in search of something to eat and to wander over to the monastery grounds to see the cathedrals and a stand of ancient olive trees that are said to be over 500 years old. The second chapel, located in a courtyard, has some of the ancient carved stones from the ruins up the hill embedded in its walls. One appears to be a 5-pointed star, another surprise. Next to the chapel there were some odd topiary trees…one appeared to be a rubber duck. Seemed out of place but a fun and odd little touch.