Approach Guides: Maya Ruins of Mexico

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Well, the cultural travel geniuses at Approach Guides are at it again - enlightening travelers - and inspiring readers to learn more. I recently received a review copy of Maya Ruins of Mexico (look for many more book reviews of Approach Guides here on Wandering Educators), and I have to say, I am completely impressed. I've read a bit here and there about the Mayan Ruins (and we have published several articles on Mayan Ruins, in El Salvador  and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. But I've not explored, in-depth, the deep cultural and historical meanings of the Maya Ruins.


Approach Guides: Maya Ruins of Mexico



As with all Approach Guides, this book is for the educated traveler - one who wants to learn more about an area, to dig deeply into the subject matter, and emerge with more knowledge - and a curiosity to see it herself. For it is about the in-depth learning, which Approach Guides does so well - that makes a difference.


For the Maya Ruins of Mexico, the book focuses on the history, cosmology, the cult of the ruler, the Maya carved relief tradition (beautifully illustrated), cosmological symbols, a timeline (critical for any study of history), maps, and five featured Maya sites. It is beautifully illustrated with color photos, floorplans, and color highlights that show exactly what is being discussed.


Approach Guides: Maya Ruins of Mexico


The featured sites (Bonampak, Chichen Itza, Palenque, Tulum, and Yaxchilan, all located in the lowlands of Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula) are each explored fully in this guide. You'll learn what to look for, distinctive features of its art and architecture, a tour of the site (maps!), where to look (and the meaning of what you're looking for), and a location comparison. You'll also read of three capital cities in Mexican history that were closely connected to the Maya: La Venta (Olmec), Teotihuacan (Teotihuacan), and Tula (Toltec).


Approach Guides: Maya Ruins of Mexico


Best of all, you'll find personal tips for each location - and an extensive range of online information, if you'd like to follow a particular subject a little more closely. I appreciate these bibliographic references. Now, I also have a much broader understanding of cultural symbols (and am seeing serpents, eagles, and jaguars everywhere. Imagine if I was in Mexico right now).


Approach Guides: Maya Ruins of Mexico


Impressed? I was, too. Here is a list of things that I love about this book, in no particular order:


•    Clear, concise outline of history
•    Intercultural & ethnorelative understanding of the cultures involved
•    Intelligent discourse
•    Impressive grasp of mythology
•    How art and architecture were central to Maya life
•    Color highlighted photos, SHOWING the particular styles/influences/objects discussed
•    Maps and handpicked favorites for each location (simplifying a visit immensely)
•    Architectural features in illustrations and photos
•    Sociological and cultural aspects that impacted all parts of art, architecture, and design
•    The role of religion in Maya culture and history
•    Maya art (and architecture) is extremely interesting (I'd previously focused on Europe)
•    That history is present in the everyday now
•    Art is an intrinsic hallmark of great civilizations


Of course, we expect this level of scholarship from Approach Guides, since they have proven over and over again to be the best cultural travel guides published today. This book, Maya Ruins of Mexico, lives up to the high standards of Approach Guides, offering deep insight into all aspects relating to the subject - historical, archaeological, sociological, art and design, language, religion and mythology, and more. I highly recommend this book.


If you're going to Mexico, you'll need include these archaeological sites in your travel plans. If you're not planning to head to Mexico, this book will certainly change that.


Approach Guides: Maya Ruins of Mexico


As you probably know, Approach Guides are digital, interactive, and have free updates. They are a complete distillation of a concept or location - it's the perfect reading material for armchair and active travelers alike, who want to learn more about a topic and place.

For more information on this book, please see:



Our Approach Guide Reviews:

Book Review: Approach Guides Indian Art & Architecture: Hindu

Book Review: Approach Guides - Stupa's Transformation Over Time

Book Review: Approach Guides Dining Throughout Italy: Food Guide

Exploring Deeply Cultural Travel with Approach Guides



All images courtesy and copyright Approach Guides