Just 20 minutes from Edwardsville sits one of the world’s most renowned archaeological sites. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is one of only 20 World Heritage Sites in the U.S and hosts as many as 350,000 visitors annually. Located just 15 miles south of Edwardsville, it sits on approximately 2,200 acres of land and showcases treasures from a city that, in its heyday of 1250 A.D.,was larger than London.
During Cahokia’s peak, there is evidence that up to 20,000 people lived there. The Native Americans who built the metropolis were at the seat of power and part of the Mississippian community of people. The city’s well-planned layout included a central ceremonial area with miles of protective walls surrounding it, platforms for games, plazas for gatherings, and vast fields of crops, most notably maize.
In today’s Cahokia, there are many intriguing structures that still remain. The ceremonial Sun Calendar called Woodhenge was used to track the movement of the stars. Mound 72 is named after the 72 unique architectural styles of notching found inside. One of the most impressive visual highlights of the site is Monks Mound, which at 100 feet high is the largest mound in North America. The site also includes over 100 other mounds and a world-class Interpretive Center where visitors can immerse themselves in the culture that created this grand and enduring city.
If you plan to visit, you can download an i-pod tour for only $1.99. There are also taped self-guided tours available at the Visitor Center, and docent-led guided tours run from June through August. Cahokia Mounds Historic Site is located at 30 Ramey Street in Collinsville. To get there, just hop on I-55 South to I-255S and take the Collinsville Road exit.