Teotihuacan, Mexico City
There are two reasons to try to visit Teotihuacan early in the morning; 1) You can avoid the heat of the mid-day sun, and 2) you can beat the peak hours of tourist bus arrivals. In most places worldwide this might be between 9 and 10 AM but the time might extend a little later for Teotihuacan because of the travel time from the city.
The ruins open at 7AM. The cheapest way to get to the ruins is to go to the north bus terminal and take a bus that leaves from the far left side of the terminal from the main entrance. The bus will drop you off at gate 1.
Although taking the bus from the north station is a great way to go, if you are
traveling with friends or want to save time (waiting for the bus, etc.)and gain
some comfort and convenience you might consider just hiring a taxi for the day.
It has been a number of years since I last heard a quote for this type of"tour". I recall it being about $50 dollars but I expect it would be closer to $100 today. Maybe even $150 because of the price of gas. Remember to bargain and not accept an initial offer. Your hotel may very well have a "driver of confidence" with an unmarked car that they might recommend. Otherwise you could just ask them to help you negotiate a price with a regular taxi. I once had a couple friends who when they went onto the street to hire a car encountered a police officer who guided them through the process and got them a good price. Having your own taxi also would give you some flexibility in making stops for pictures, shopping, eating and even seeing other sites.
Hiring a private real tour from an agency would cost a lot more money. Group tours are not expensive but they are not really necessary. You can easily visit on your own.
We took a day trip to the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan which is about a 45 minute drive outside Mexico City. When we got there, my wife was literally speechless for about 30 minutes! I've got to tell you, this site will be very hard to top!! It has two main pyramids (moon and sun pyramids) and a long long avenue with smaller pyramids all down each side. I almost made it to the top of the larger pyramid of the sun (216 big and often steep steps) but didn't quite get there due to lack of breath. The view was stunning and very photogenic. If you go to Mexico City, this day trip is an absolute must do!!!
I booked the trip to Teotihuacan through the front desk at the hostel that I was staying at. I believe the cost was 200 pesos for a guided tour of Teotihuacan as well as Basilica de Guadalupe (Mexico's National Cathedral). There was about 16 people in my group. 8 people went into one van and the other 8 people into another van. We first stopped by the Basilica de Guadalupe which was within Mexico City and did our tourist sightseeing for an hour. Afterward we headed back to the van and drove for about an hour or so to reach Teotihuacan. The drive there took us pass the barrios (the slum) of Mexico City. It was really sad to see that the barrios just went on and on and on forever. If you have seen Danziel Washington's "Man On Fire" you will have a mental picture of what the slum looked like. AFter an hour in the van we finally arrived at the Teotihuacan. We first stopped at a Tequila/Mezcal factory to sample some liquor before proceeding to the pyramids. The Aztec pyramids were the most amazing thing that I have ever witnessed. I did not expect it to be as big as it was. One of the guy in my group is from England. He has personally been to Egypt and seen the pyramids there. He told me that the size of the pyramids in Teotihuacan is comparable to the pyramids in Egypt. Teotihuacan is a definite must for anyone who are visiting Mexico City.
Teotihuacan was a colossal urban center in ancient times that dates back to around 100 BC. It dominated life in the region for 500 years before being destroyed and abandoned around AD 650 and soon after discovered by the Aztecs. What really happened to it though is still shrouded in mystery.
This awesome site is dominated by two enormous pyramids which the Aztecs called the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun which are linked by a wide avenue called the Avenue of the Dead. So dubbed because the Aztecs believed that the structures that lined it were royal tombs. The Pyramid of the Moon, although smaller than the Pyramid of the Sun, offers the best view from its peak because it is on higher ground. I read somewhere that the base of the Pyramid of the Sun is similar in size to that of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, though shorter in height.
We entered through the Quetzalpapalotl Palace Complex, a maze of structures and temples built around the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl (bottom left on the collage below), named for the mythological creatures carved into its courtyard pillars that have obsidian eyes.
Those of us brave enough made the obligatory climb up the Pyramid of the Moon.
When I got to the first level of this four-tiered structure, I stopped to rest and take in the view. The view from here was breathtaking enough so I contentedly sat there and drank it all in. Contemplating the mysteries of the universe. Ok not that deeply, but I was mystified. Who were the original residents of this vast complex? Who destroyed their home? Where did they run off to?
The Pyramids of Teotihuacan are some of the great cultural monuments of the Western Hemisphere. They are some of the greatest remaining evidence of advanced culture in this part of the world in ancient times. They are also fun to climb, and definitely worth the trip.
If you've begun your visit at the southern end of the city, visited the museum, gazed at the Templo Qetzalcoatl, climbed the Pyramid of the Sun and walked the whole length of the Avenidade los Muertos, you're going to be feeling hot and weary by the time you reach Pyramid de la Luna and you may well feel you're not up to another climb, and you'll give the palaces at this end of the site a miss. Don't!
Sit down somewhere, have a drink (you did bring some water with you I hope), take a break, and then branch off from the Avenue of the Dead to look at some of the palaces here and their wonderful frescoes and carvings. Some of the frescoes are still in excellent condition - showing birds and gods in vivid colours. Others, sadly, are showing severe signs of degrading - I'm told by a recent visitor the Mural of the Puma is now in shocking condition, so it may be that some of the palaces will be closed in future - it would be advisable to check at the entrance before you expend the effort at this stage of the day.
If you approach the vast site at Teotihuacan from the south (the main carpark and public transport) approach you will pass the Museum before you actually reach the temples. It is worth making a detour at this point and visiting the museum first, tempting though it is to head straight for the temples and pyramids that lie ahead. The museum gives you an excellent understanding of what the place was all about and the admission is included in the entry fee, so make the most of it, spend an hour inside and out (there is quite a lot of stuff outside in the surrounding garden) and your visit will become more meaningful.
The model of the site is very good, allowing you to really see how the buildings related to each other.
That's what the pre-Hispanic people's who lived here in the Valle de Mexico considered Teotihuacan to be and for hundreds of years it was the most important city in all Mexico. The size and scale of the place is so awesome you really begin to appreciate just how sophisticated the pre-Colombian civilazations of Mexico were.This really is the must-see of all the must-sees of Mexico. Dominated by two HUGE pyramids - the Piramide de la Luna (the Pyramid of the Moon) at the north end of the main concourse ( the Avenida de los Muertos -- the Avenue of the Dead) and the Piramide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) halfway along the eastern axis of the avenue - the site is vast, open and exposed and can be very, very hot - do bring a hat and some water with you. Be aware also that you are at quite a high altitude, so if you have only just arrived in Mexico City - take it easy.
Whether you come to the site at the northern end, in which case you'll probably climb the Piramide de la Luna first and so get a wonderful view of the site from a high vantage point, and make your way along the Avenida de los Muertes via the various palaces and temples as well as the even bigger Piramide del Sol (the 3rd biggest in the world) to the south-west entrance and the museum, or make your way up from the southern end, visiting the museum first, a visit is going to take you hours and involve a lot of walking and climbing, so wear sensible shoes and comfortable clothes. This is an expedition to prepare for but it is worth all the effort.
Entry is free on Sundays and holidays which means it is always more crowded then. The earlier you can arrive, the better. You'll avoid much of the crowds as well as the heat of the day.
Is hard to not feel impressed with the majestuosity of this buidings. Maybe is the most incredible place I have never visited. Maybe you have to take more than an afternoon to walk around Teotihuacan, use sunblock in the skin, and comfortable shoes. Would be cool if you go with someone special
This time those were the only pyramids to climb - not like the year before when I visited the Mayan route :) - nice view from each one of them.
You can walk around the sunpyramid and enjoy the view and get yourself filled up with energy on top of it.
In front of the Moonpyramid I bought two really nice figures out of Lavastone - colorful decorated - I got them for a good prize.
We avoided the tour groups and split a tourist taxi fair (about $90 return) out to the site of Teotihuacan. The place is absolutely incredible, it's impossible to find words to describe how simply awe inspiring it is.
Two enormous pyramids jut out of the site, towering above everything. Its quite a difficult climb, especially if you're still jet lagged or getting over the altitude sickness, but extremely rewarding once you reach the summit. Take care descending, the stairs are tiny and probably quite easy to slip on.
Around the base of the pyramids there are an army of hawkers trying to sell all manner of junky trinkets. It's easy to avoid them: just say 'no' if they try to offer you something that doesn't interest you. Whatever the case, their little whistles add a nice ambience to the place.
This is an amazing place.
The place is relatively near Mexico city - you can take a cheap bus from the North Bus Termianal. The visit to Teotihuacan won't be longer than one day, so don't worry about accomodation.
When you arrive at the place, check out first the museum, it will give you a general idea of what you will see outside.
The Sun and Moon Pyramids are very popular and walking trough the death street will take you in someway to those times.
Be ready to meet lot of tourist and climb up.
This is a must see. Coming to Mexico and not coming here is like coming to Egypt and not visiting the piramides there.
This is an absolutely amazing place. You can see my Teotihuacan page for more info and photos.
The major thing to see when in the Mexico City is Teotihuacan. It is the largest Pre-Columbian archeological site in the Americas. Teotihuacan is a Nahuatl name, meaning Place where there is god-becoming. According to legend this was where the Gods gathered to plan the creation of man.
The name Teotihuacan is also used to refer to the civilization this city dominated, which at its greatest extent included most of Mesoamerica. It is not known who these people were, but there is archaelogical evidence of having been a multi-ethnic place, with distinct Zapotec, Mixtec, Maya and Nahua quarters. The Totonacs have always maintained that they were the ones who built it, a story that was corroborated later by the Aztecs.
Construction of Teotihuacan commenced around 300 BC, with the Pyramid of the Sun built by 150 BC. The city reached its zenith approx. 150–450 AD, when it was the centre of an influential culture. At its height the city probably housed a population of over 150,000 people, possibly as many as 200,000. Teotihuacan was an important source of obsidian and there was intensive trade with other regions of Mesoamerica.
The city's broad central avenue, called "Avenue of the Dead", is still flanked by impressive ceremonial architecture, including the immense Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and many lesser temples and palaces.
Unfortunately no ancient Teotihuacano texts are known to exist, but the city is occasionally referred to in the texts of Maya monuments, showing that Teotihuacan nobility traveled to and married with the families of local rulers as far away as Honduras. The city was sacked and burned, possibly by the invading Toltecs, sometime during the 7th or 8th centuries.
Knowledge of the ruins of this huge city was never lost. The ruined city was a place of pilgrimage in Aztec times; it astonished visiting conquistadores; and it has been one of the most noted attractions for visitors to Mexico since the 19th century. It will do the same to you.
Some of the most impressive pre-Aztec constructions in the valle de México. The two pyramids, Pirámide del Sol (the oldest - AD 150 - and highest - 70 m-tall), and Pirámide de la Luna (AD.250-600), and the multiple temples scattered around, are really something to see.
Of great interest is the Quetzalcóatl, the feathered serpent god, represented at numerous places. There's some fine handicrafts to be bought there also, amongst others, really nice obsidian carvings.