Mixco Viejo, San Juan Sacatepequez

4.5
#13 of 16 in Historic Sites in Sacatepequez Department
Ruin · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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Mixco Viejo (/ˈmisko ˈβieχo/) ("Old Mixco"), occasionally spelt Mixcu Viejo, is an archaeological site in the north east of the Chimaltenango department of Guatemala, some 50 kilometres (31 mi) to the north of Guatemala City and 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the junction of the rivers Pixcaya and Motagua. It is a moderate sized ruined city of the Postclassic Maya civilization.

The archaeological site and tourist attraction of Mixco Viejo was named after being erroneously associated with the Postclassic Poqomam capital referred to in colonial records by that name. The archaeological site has now been identified as Jilotepeque Viejo, the capital of the Chajoma Kaqchikel kingdom. To distinguish between the two, the ruins of the Chajoma capital are now referred to as Mixco Viejo (Jilotepeque Viejo) while the former Poqomam capital is referred to as Mixco Viejo (Chinautla Viejo).

This confusion in the identification of the site has hindered study. The Chajoma capital has been investigated archaeologically, under the assumption that it was the Poqomam capital. Although the Chajoma ruins of Jilotepeque Viejo have been well described archaeologically, the archaeological data has been associated with the history of a different site entirely. Doubts about the identification of the archaeological site were first raised by Robert M. Carmack, who realised that the supposed Poqomam capital was not located within the Poqomam linguistic area but rather within the linguistic area of the Kaqchikels. The Poqomam who were settled in the new colonial settlement of Mixco by the Spanish had a long history of fine polychrome ceramic production, but no evidence of such production had been recovered during archaeological investigations, and the ruins were considered too distant from colonial Mixco.
Chinautla Viejo was attacked by the invading Spanish in 1525; the first two attacks against the heavily fortified city were unsuccessful. The besieged city received Poqomam reinforcements that were comprehensively defeated on an open field of battle, with the Spanish cavalry being decisive. The capture of Poqomam prisoners allowed the Spanish to discover the location of a cave providing a secret entrance to the city. A third assault broke the month-long siege, allowing the Spanish to take the city. The surviving inhabitants were moved to another settlement and Pedro de Alvarado ordered the city to be burned.

Jilotepeque Viejo was settled by the Chajoma in order to provide a capital that was safer from attack from the hostile Iximche Kaqchikel kingdom than their previous capital. In spite of this, the city fell under the domination of Iximche and the city's architecture, spread in a number of fortified groups along a ridge surrounded by deep ravines, shows a mixture of Chajoma and Kaqchikel styles. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Chajoma of Jilotepeque Viejo may have initially allied themselves with the Spanish together with Iximche and have joined in the general Kaqchikel uprising against the Spanish in 1524. The site was abandoned after the conquest and never reoccupied.
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Mixco Viejo reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
31 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Our favorite Post-Classic Mayan site. Spectacular setting, beautiful and well-maintained park-like grounds. Quite a contrast to our prior visit in 1977! Quite spread out -- would be a wonderful... 
    Our favorite Post-Classic Mayan site. Spectacular setting, beautiful and well-maintained park-like grounds. Quite a contrast to our prior visit in 1977! Quite spread out -- would be a wonderful...  more »
  • Had a great time learning about the Mixco ruins. Not the biggest or fanciest temples, but you can crawl/ climb all over them. These ruins give you a great idea of what 'day to day' life may have... 
    Had a great time learning about the Mixco ruins. Not the biggest or fanciest temples, but you can crawl/ climb all over them. These ruins give you a great idea of what 'day to day' life may have...  more »
Google
  • Very interesting and picturesque place to visit. You'll see many fully restored/rebuilt structures that you can climb as well as some parts and pieces exactly how they were when they were discovered. We especially liked the two towers at Group B and the ball courts. So much history. It can be very hot and dry here, so bring plenty of water. They only charge the entrance fee due adults.
  • Great place, a lot of history

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