A Memorable Mexico City Day Trip: The Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan, the “birthplace of the gods”, is the most famous and venerable pre-Columbian site in Mexico and as a result, is a paramount UNESCO World Heritage Site. A short drive from dynamic Mexico City, the pre-Hispanic City is a must-see point of interest for anyone in the national capital region.
Image by bdebaca
Located in the San Juan Teotihuacan municipality, Teotihuacan contains some of the largest pyramidal structures in the Americas. The site is spread over a total of 83 km2 that at its acme in the 5th century, was home to some 200,000 inhabitants. The earliest part of the site dates back well over 2,000 years and the Pyramid of the Sun, the dominant landmark in Teotihuacan, was built around the year 100. To the myriad ethnic groups who dwelled in the area, Teotihuacan was the wellspring of the known universe.
Image by Olivier Bruchez
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built to symbolize two axes. The Avenue of the Dead runs for several kilometres and connects the Pyramid of the Moon to the Citadel, displaying symmetrical abodes, plazas and palaces on each side. The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon were built as temples of worship. Another great construction, La Ciudadela, is located south on the Avenue of the Dead and is represented by a sunken plaza surrounded by fifteen small pyramids.
Image by Larry Johnson
Image by Wikimedia Commons
The reason for Teotihuacan’s decline still remains unclear. Around the year 700, its population drastically reduced to 70,000 and the city was deliberately burnt to the ground. Some speculate that the move might have been due to drastic climatic changes that caused the drying out of the land.
Visitors will be able dive into a mythical world through the well-preserved mural paintings from the Palace of the Jaguars, or the Palace of the Quetzal-Mariposa, as well as the sculptures found in the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Prepare to walk the distance in between the temples and to climb the Pyramids for a great view of Teotihuacan.
Image by Wikimedia Commons
Image by Crystian Cruz
The Palace of the Jaguar has several murals showing the jaguar god in feathered headdresses, praying to the rain god or blowing shells. The Palace of Quetzal-MariposaÂ contains some equally impressive carved pillars that depict a mythical hybrid bird-butterfly. Directly under the Pyramid of the Moon lays a cave system where various artefacts have been found, probably used for religious purposes. Do not miss the Teotihuacan Research Centre and the on-site museums, where you can find out more about this ancient culture, as well as observe importantÂ artefacts.
Image by liberalmind1012
If you do plan a visit, book yourself a room at a Teotihuacan hotel in the area, or indeed, stay in magnificent Mexico City. Tourists who want to tackle the pyramids in summer should take plenty of water and protection from the sun.