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Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan Panorama

Courtesy of visitmexico.com

Enjoy the striking views on a day trip to Teotihuacan.

The ancient city of Teotihuacan is located approximately 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. This ancient ruin still leaves many questions unanswered as to who the people were who built it. Little is known about the language they spoke or their religious beliefs. The city was abandoned long before the conquering Spaniards ever set foot in Mexico. The Aztecs discovered the ruins in 1320 A.D. and gave it the name, Teotihuacan, which means “place where gods were born.” The Aztecs believed it was the birthplace of the sun, moon and the universe itself.

The city was built in approximately 300 A.D., and at its zenith scholars believe it could have been larger than Rome. The inhabitants mysteriously began to abandon Teotihuacan around 700 A.D. There is much speculation as to what the reasons were. Some believe natural resources were depleted. Others think over-population caused the city to be abandoned. Signs of fire damage to the temples also lead some researchers to believe that an internal uprising against the elite was the cause of Teotihuacan’s demise.

AVENUE OF THE DEAD

The Avenue of the Dead runs approximately two miles down the center of Teotihuacan and ends just past the Ciudadela. The foreboding sound of the avenue’s name came from the Aztecs observations of the mounds located alongside it, which they believed to be burial sites. The avenue was specially constructed to gather rain water and channel it directly into the Rio San Juan. The Avenue of the Dead split the city in two and at one time had apartment complexes located on either side of it.

PYRAMID OF THE SUN

The Pyramid of the Sun sits on the east side of the Avenue of the Dead. It is one of the largest pyramids in the world, bested only by the Great Pyramid of Cheops and the Great Pyramid of Cholula. During excavations, caves were discovered at the interior of the structure. There is still some debate as to whether the pyramid was built on top of a natural cave or whether it was man-made. The significance of this cave points to the Mesoamerican belief that the universe was created in a cave, and this may also be why the Aztecs believe this was the place where life was created. There are approximately 248 steps to the top of the pyramid and are worth climbing for the sweeping views of the ruins.

PYRAMID OF THE MOON

The Pyramid of the Moon sits on the far north end of the Avenue of the Dead and has produced some of Teotihuacan’s most bizarre and fascinating archeological finds. Many human and animal remains have been found within the layers of the pyramid. It is believed that these were sacrifices, made as an offering to the gods as the pyramid was expanded. Within the five burial sites, everything from decapitated heads, to puma, wolf and eagle remains have been found.

FEATHERED SERPENT PYRAMID

Of all the sites at Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent is probably the most elaborately carved. It sits atop the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead. It is covered in striking sculptures of serpent heads, many of which still retain the red paint they were covered in. Mass graves of over 200 people have been excavated at this sight, and scientists believe this to be an offering to mark the initial construction of the Pyramid. Knives and figurines of obsidian were also discovered.

MUSEUM

View several of the artifacts that were uncovered during excavations of Teotihuacan at the museum. Admission is approximately $4.80 and hours are Monday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Municipio de Teotihuacán, Estado de México
Km 22+600 de la autopista Ecatepec-Pirámides
San Juan Teotihuacán, Estado de México 5580
01-594-956-0052

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