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CASAS GRANDES - MADERA Arhaelolocial Circuit

Casas Grandes- Madera Map, Chihuahua, Mexico

Nuevo Casas Grandes, a very important agricultural center, is located 222 miles northwest Chihuahua City. With an elevation of 4,855 feet, it has a temperate climate.

Founded on 1661, by the order of the Governor of the New Vizcaya, Captain Andres Garcia and his family settled Casas Grandes. This city celebrates its regional fair during the last part of June, the first days of July. The magnificent pottery from Mata Ortiz is exhibited. There are popular dances, rooster fights, and horse races. The otherwise quiet town fills up with color and pageantry. The entire community gets involved: hotels, restaurants, and business celebrate these busy days.

Four miles to the west are Casas Grandes and Pauime, the most important archeological sites of northern Mexico. They are situated on a large site of more than 50 hectares in a beautiful valley. Paquime is an ancient city planned with amazingly advanced urbanization. Its buildings and ceremonial monuments were constructed with adobe bricks under a system of pre-strained mud. They carried fresh water in and out the city with a functional hydraulic system. Considering the epoch, it is a master piece. Its enormous plazas and big habitation units exhibit a high grade of comfort developed by its inhabitants over nine hundred years ago.

At the beginning of the 19th century, prominent archeologist A.D. Bandeller discovered this zone. Currently, scientists and travelers still compare its characteristics with other southwest cultures. For example, there is a connection with the Mogollon culture in the southwest USA. Paquime also presents Mesoamerican influences such as those reflected with ball games and in some structures with the Quetzalcoatl Cult (an Aztec God). Existing evidence shows that the region was inhabited since remote eras. The flourishing of this culture was between 900 to 1250 AD.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History recently inaugurated an on site MUSEUM OF THE NORTHERN CULTURES, where on display, there is a complete explanation of this magnificent cultural site. Currently, only about 30 hectares (divided into 16 units) have been explored. The fantastic pieces of ceramics found in the area are of various shape and decoration. These were used mainly for ceremonial occasions and offerings. They also found pieces of jewelry like pendants and bracelets made out of sea shells, bone, and turquoise, and some small stone anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures. Unfortunately, around the year 1340, the city was burned and sacked by nomads.

MADERA is a hospitable city located 185 miles northwest of Chihuahua City. The altitude here is 6,922 feet providing a mountain climate, clear pristine air, and a great thermal oscillation. It is an agricultural, wood, and cattle center. Driving only 5 minutes north of the town, one finds the Peņitas dam. During the winter, thousands of noisy white Canadian geese and ducks adorn its waters. The scenery touches ones heart.

Based in Madera one can visit the archeological site of 40 Casas. It is located 34 miles north of the city to the left, one finds a detour and after about a mile is the parking. Good physical condition is recommended to visit the site.

In 40 Casas one will admire ancient adobe constructions in a series of caves situated on the Arroyo del Garabato cliff. The most important is the Cueva de las Ventanas, with a greater number of constructions. Also one can visit other sites like the Cueva Grande and the Anazasi Complex.

While in Madera, one can camp, fish or hunt in the midst of marvelous scenery and history.

Paquime Ruins, Mexico

De Las Culturas del Norte Museum, Mexico

Peņitas Dam, Mexico

Cueva Grande, Mexico

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