The Pyramids At Teotihuacan
Julie Schwietert Collazo
While it’s not in Mexico City proper, the sacred pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan is close enough–about 30 miles– for an easy day trip if you’re interested in architecture, archaeology, and indigenous history. The site’s primary structures, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, and it is possible to explore the pyramids–and even climb them–either independently or with a guide. After ascending nearly 250 steps on the Pyramid of the Sun, you’ll have a greater appreciation for these ancient structures and the civilization responsible for having built them. In addition to the pyramids, an on-site museum documents the history of the so-called “City of the Gods,” and displays archaeological finds, including pottery, bones, and other important objects.
Teotihuacan, Mexico City
This view is from the top of the “Moon Pyramid” in Teotihuacan looking out over a 2 kilometer stretch that’s been excavated. It’s a common misconception that the Aztecs built these structures, but they actually discovered and inhabited them much later.
Exploring the Ruins of Teotihuacan
At Teotihuacan, an archaeological site 45 minutes northeast of Mexico City, the most influential city in Mesoamerica thrived for hundreds of years before disappearing around 700 C.E. The highlight of the site is the 200-plus foot Pyramid of the Sun. It’s an imperfect triangular mound with staggered levels, a muddy grey facade, and a steep staircase that visitors climb to the uneven top.
City of the Gods
This is a view looking down the Avenida de los Muertos toward the Pyramid of the Sun and the Citadel from the Pyramid of the Moon. For the unknown inhabitants of Teotihuacan, a climb up these massive pyramids must have made them feel “on top of the world” since these were the tallest structures of their time. Teotihuacan is easily reached by bus from Mexico City, and the trip takes just over an hour.
Sun Pyramid - Teotihuacan, Mexico
There were some discoveries today at the Sun Pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico. This may make the Sun Pyramid the Fire Pyramid. So hurry and visit Mexico City and go to Teotihuacan, because maybe that big stone structure may change names soon. The discovered stones are believed to be dedicated to the Old or Fire God (Huehuetéotl) Keep exploring my friends....
Maya Sun and Moon Pyramids
It was the top of the morning when we boarded the rented tourist van that took us an hour or so outside of Mexico City to Teotihuacan, the site of the ancient ruins and Sun and Moon Pyramids of the Maya civilization. They were a sight to see early that morning as the sun peaked casting intense shadows and stark highlights. It made the site all the more magnificent, and the feeling even more spiritual. The grounds were quiet, with few visitors at the time that we were there. We climbed the age-old pyramids and learned of their significance and history from our local tour leader. In all, it was a great day.
On the temple of the sun
I run all the way up to the top of the temple of the sun. Where this picture is taken from
When you are visiting Teotihuacan, there are some underground former residences area just to the west of the Pyramid of the Moon that I thought were pretty fascinating. Don’t miss them. This photo probably doesn’t show it as well as I would like, but there are some beautiful murals.
Pyramids with the Gorilla
I was fortunate to get to visit the Pyramids of Teotihuacan with a local expert and tour guide, Ricardo Cervantes, who calls himself the Gorilla. Ricardo is a native Mexican, who is seeking to provide insights for visitors into ancient Mexico from the perspective of the indigenous people, and to help provide a prideful framework for young Mexicans to have pride in their indigenous roots.
Pyramids of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacan
My friend and I hired Jorge to drive us from Mexico City to Teotihuacan’s ruins and he gave us quite a day! Jorge painted a vivid picture of the mindset of the ancient Teotihuacanos, especially their thoughts about death, and what they did in this ancient city that spanned miles 100 years before Christ. If you climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, where this photo was taken, and go to the center of the pyramid, the air feels different and the people around you seem in awe. I wish I would have brought a picnic to enjoy the view with.
When the original temple was excavated, the bodies of over 200 sacrificed victims were discovered at its base. These bodies are located inside the museum near the pyramids.
Visiting the pyramids
While in Mexico City recently celebrating my birthday, I took a day trip to the Teotihuacan Pyramids and was awed and amazed at their beauty. It’s nearly a two hour venture to the pyramids and can easily be arranged by tour. If possible, go by private tour, as I did, because the place is so big and so hot (at least I was), that I was very glad to have been able to leave when I wanted and not wait for a large group. All that walking/hiking was exhausting!
The Spiritual Significance of Teotihuacan
Just about 30 miles outside Mexico City is one of the country’s many important archaeological and indigenous cultural sites. Teotihuacan is Mexico’s most visited archaeological site and is also considered one of its most significant, thanks to its abundance of pyramids and dwellings. There are plenty of guides hovering around the periphery of the site, ready to offer their services; many say they are direct descendants of the former inhabitants of the ancient city, which today is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Those in the know agree that the man known as “El Gorila” (so named for his physique) is the best among them. El Gorila is a certified guide who prides himself on tours that are both educational and spiritual. The tours he offers are not of the pyramids themselves, but of surrounding areas, where you can experience medicine walks, a temazcal (spiritual steam ritual), or meditation in a darkened cave. Many of his clients swear they have experienced spiritual awakenings or transformations after participating in an activity led by El Gorila.
Explore the Teotihuacán Pyramids
A great day trip outside of Mexico City. Do the steep climb to the top of the Sun Pyramid for an amazing view of the surrounding area and to see the impressive scope of this deserted city. Some of the largest pyramids in the world, the area is well worth exploring. Wander through old temples, examine paintings of jaguars, and avoid aggressive touts. An easy bus trip from Terminal Autobuses del Norte. They leave every hour and drop you off right at the park.
Teotihuacan, birthplace of the Gods.
As if Mexico city didn’t have enough to do and see, you have to also strongly consider doing a few day trips if you have the time. The pyramids of Teotihuacan have a unique story and are an important part of Mexican history. They city is believed to be the largest in the pre-Columbian Americas. The actual name of the city is unknown, but the Aztecs named it “Teotihuacan” or “birthplace of the Gods”. This is because the Aztecs believed that the gods created the universe at that site. The city is about two hours from Mexico City and extremely worth visiting. I thought it was beautiful to see these ruins. They are extremely well preserved! There must have been so many stories here of families and a community that was definitely ahead of it’s time.
Ballooning Over Teotihuacan
As if seeing the pyramids at Teotihuacan were not spectacular enough, viewing them from a hot air balloon is truly a bucket list experience. The perspective you get of the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and the Avenue of the Dead gives you an appreciation for the Teotihuacanos and what they created 1500 years ago.
View from the Pyramid of the Sun, Overlooking the Pyramid of the Moon
Go early! I left Mexico City, specifically the neighborhood of La Condesa, while it was still dark and had the chance to see the sunrise on the outer edges of the city. The trip took an hour and although I got there before the park officially opened I was allowed in. I had the chance to take pictures before the site filled up with tourists, school children, and vendors. Bring water, sunscreen, walking shoes. Note that if you go early the bathrooms will not be open! Also, if you take an Uber ($25 each way, May 2017) know that you will need cash to pay for the tolls (70 pesos each way) Overall, this was a great cultural experience and well worth the drive. It was very interesting to see a Mesoamerican site and read about the civilization at the on-site museum (most signage has English translations) After a morning touring, I recommend eating at La Gruta, a restaurant across from Teotihuacan’s gate 5 that serves delicious food in a beautiful cave setting.
In spite of the extraordinary amount of intact pyramids, altars, and buildings at the archaeological site at Teotihuacan (the city, at one point, was the most populous metropolis in the Americas and was nearly eight miles square), not very much is known about the people who lived here between 150 B.C.E. and the 6th century C.E. Some details, of course, have survived. The civilization engaged in human sacrifice, and lots of it. They worshipped a cruel pantheon of gods with the features of eagles, serpents, or jaguars. They were master builders and city-planners and fierce warriors. Because only 8% of the city has been excavated, exciting discoveries are still being made—a tunnel discovered in 2003 under the marvelous Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent lead to three chambers filled with treasures (statues, jewelry, and animal bones and miniature models of the landscape with rivers and lakes filled with liquid mercury). Aerial scans of small pyramid-sized mountains due south of the city’s Avenue of the Dead indicate that more temple and residential structures are buried there, covered by natural growth. It seems that the secrets long held by this lost city, will continue to be unearthed for years to come.