If you are looking up things to do in Mexico City, Teotihuacan will inevitably come up.
About a 1 hour bus ride north east of Mexico City and it is home to some grand pyramids that are dated to be about 2000 years old and is pre-Aztec. Little is still known about this site however, artefacts suggest that it was once a city that made some great obsidian goods from the nearby extinct volcano Cerro Gordo. This site in listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and was named Teotihuacan by the Aztecs themselves.
We took an electric bus from nearby our hotel to main bus station (Terminal Centrale del Norte) where we joined the lines of tourists for the direct bus to Teotihuacan (duration 1 hour). Despite getting there before 9am, so did everyone else. The coach was really comfy and akin to the ones we have back home. I love having my face glued to the window on buses (un-interruped views) of colourful towns as we passed and then colourful murals as we got to the (modern) town of Teotihuacan. It is best to start early when going to Teotihuacan to not only beat the crowds but also beat the heat.
We had a local guide who accompanied us throughout the whole day. So much to tell us and so little time! The Pyramids are thought to be a gateway to the after life and so were a sacrificial site as well. The site sprawls out as far as you can see with the Avenue of the Dead 4km long which was thought to have been a bustling thoroughfare of market stores.
After we had seen the “museum” where original murals still exist within some of the structures, it was time to wonder around the Pyramids. First up was the Pyramdid of the Moon. When we went, this site was still open the public but I know this is topic is hotly debated (whether we should be allowed to climb it etc). We climbed it and it was tough because the steps, like all archeological sites, are quite steep. The views however, are the best as this Pyramid is on the west side so you have the whole Avenue of the Dead as far as the eye can see.
Next, we lined up for the Pyramid of the Sun. This is the biggest Pyramid at Teotihuacan and is 65 metres high. There was a line to climb the Pyramid of the Sun and I think we were waiting for almost 30 mins. The first set of steps was tough but there is plenty of space for you to catch your breath. The rest of the rest of the steps up to the peak were easy because we were like a queue of ants, there was a lot of stopping and the climb was slower. By mid morning, the smog was becoming more evident.
There were so many people the entire climb- it is also one direction only so once you get to the top, the officials like to keep you moving along. On the way down, which was also bumper to bumper, we saw some sand tornados (is this what it’s called?) and butterflies. It just felt like spirits past had blown in with the wind and some sort of mysterious energy of the site.
It kind of gave me goosebumps thinking about how many other people had been to this site since it’s birth in 200 AD and how little we know about them and what they did. At the time of the greatest population, this town was said to have 100, 000 inhabitants!
Our guide then offered some of us to take a quick trip to one of his friends place nearby so we went out of the archeological park and through some back streets. At the house (literally!) we were given some information about the agave plant and got to try some pulque which is a traditional central Mexican alcoholic drink made from fermented agave sap. We also tried tequila, mezcal and licor de xoconostle (prickly pear fruit). Each of us were so won over by the liquor that we all ended up getting a bottle each! We also got to see some handmade obsidian artwork.
When we went back to the archeological site, we met up with the rest of our group for lunch (they had already eaten and were just chatting) before heading back onto the bus back to Mexico City all exhausted and covered with sand.
I was alittle disappointed that we weren’t able to freely roam the rest of the site. I think perhaps the rest of the structures further down the Avenue of the Dead are not as well preserved but I was really looking forward to also seeing the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (which was only discovered in 2003)! There are also other indoor museums further down that we did not get the chance to visit. I wonder how long it would take to see everything.
Have you been to Teotihuacan? If so, did you like it? If not, is it on your list? And did you get to see all the sites on the otherside of the Avenue of the Dead?
Want more things to do in Mexico City? 8 more things you can do in Mexico City.