Favorite thing: If you're coming to Teotihuacan from Mexico City, plan on spending a half day. Some people make it a full day trip, but I think about 3 hours is enough. If I had it to do over again, I would have left earlier to avoid the midday sun. Try to get here as early as possible (it's an hour and a half from Mexico City) so that you can walk around the fairly vast site in the cooler morning air and enjoy better light for taking photos.
The best place to be in Teotihuacán is the top of the sun pyramid, after you manage to get to the top just find a place to sit and enjoy the view while you rest, it is worth the effort.
Fondest memory: visiting the place with my spanish family and seeing their amazement with the whole place.
The view from the top of the pyramid.
We found that having a tour guide was very helpful, especially in interpreting some of the sites. You will see many chambers, temples, and graphic illustrations of particular figures on the site. Teotihuacan was a very large city for its time, so there are a lot of different areas to explore. Without the guide, we would have not really known about a lot of the sites that we were visiting.
Of course, you will want some free time to explore on your own. I was glad to have the opportunity to climb one of the pyramids and walk around just to get different perspectives of the city.
It is hard to say which sites you will be able to access on the particular day that you visit. Excavations are constantly in progress on the site. Here is a good link to follow that gives a lot of information about this place;
Fondest memory: Seeing a mysterious place that the history books declare to be very important.
As mentioned earlier, legends say that Quetzalcoatl was a living person before he was worshipped as a god. It's also said that he had "white skin, with hair on the face and beautiful emerald eyes" and didn't look like the indians. The head of the feathered serpent that he is portrayed like, looks very much like the dragonheads the vikings had on their boats. Because of this some people say he could have been a viking.
It's believed that the vikings were the first to discover the Americas, so who knows...? Coming from the land of the vikings I like to believe these two theories... ;)
We arrived to the site in the middle of the day. So did all the other tourists as well... All the tourists ruined a bit of the experience, there were people everywhere you went and everywhere you looked.
The worst was when we had to walk in a queue all the way to the top of the pyramide. I think it's much better to go there as early as you can. Many people go on organised tours, and busloads of people arrive in the middle of the day.
The pyramid of the sun is the biggest structure at the site, and the third largest pyramid in the world. The largest is the Cheops pyramid in Egypt, but it's not allowed to climb it. The second largest is the pyramid in Cholula, Mexico, but this is a total ruin today. This makes the pyramid of the sun the tallest pyramid in the world that you can climb.
The pyramid is believed to have been about 65-70 m high and had originally a width of 225m. The Cheops pyramid was 226 m wide and about double the height of the Pyramid of the sun.
The god Quetzalcoatl is depicted as a feathered serpent, and is first seen at Teotihuacán. Later he appears in many other sites all around the country, and the legend of him is very strong in many other following cultures. He is the best known of the gods that appear throughout pre-Columbian archaeology.
No one knows what he meant to the people that built Teotihuacán, but the aztecs "adopted" him and gave him their own legend. Quetzalcoatl means wise leader who enjoys the favor of the Gods, and he is one of the few gods that (is believed) to have been a living person. He was very much against human sacrifices and one day he built a raft and disappeared of the coast near Veracruz. He promised to return one day and put an end to the human sacrifices.
Ironically Hernan Cortés arrived in the same area at that time it was believed Quetzalcoatl would come back. The Aztecs thought it was the god returning, and treated him accordingly. Unfortunately he wasn't the god they thought...
There have been lots of excavations and studies made in Teotihuacán the last century, but still there is much of the site which is not uncovered. When you walk around or look over the area from top of the pyramids, you can see many strangely-shaped "hills" around. These are temples or small pyramids still not excavated.
The whole area is incredibly big! It's estimated that there were more than 2000 high-walled apartment compounds in the 20 km2 area at it's glorious days. The residential area seems to have been spread all over the area. But the monumental constructions were concentrated in the northern half of the city.
Favorite thing: It's not known why the city was abandoned. Around 600 AD starts the first signs of the decline, and around 750 AD the city was totally abandoned. Some believe that the city was attacked by other tribes, but it can also have been an ecological disaster that drove them away from the city. They cut down a lot of forests to build the city. The trees were used for columns, roof supports, door lintels and so on. This can have resulted in a severe soil erosion that left the hillsides as naked and dry as they are today. They also had to feed lots of people, and with no forms of artifical fertiziler or no knowledge about crop rotation, this might have destroyed the lands ability to grow more.
Favorite thing: It is believed that people started settling in the area at about 600 BC, but the building of the monumental sites didn't start untill the two first centuries after Christ. It soon became the largest and most populous urban center in the New World, and had about 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants. In the fourth century the influences of the city were heavily spread all over Mesoamerica, and it is believed to have been one of the largest cities in the whole world at that time!
Actually no one really knows who built it, why it was abandoned or where the people went. It is possible that they came from other places in the valley of Mexico. There is a place called Cuicuilco that lies in the south of what is today Mexico city. Much of this place was destroyed by a volcano, and some think it was these people that settled in Teotihuacan after that happened. You can still find traces of their circular pyramids in the south of Mexico city.
When the aztecs discovered Teotihuacán, it had already been abandoned for a long time. They thought such an amazing place could only have been built by the gods and not by humans, and in their legends it became the place where the sun, moon and universe were created. Some say the name Teotihuacan means "The city of gods" and others say it means "The city where men become gods".
Fondest memory: I loved that we had the freedom to wander around this place on our own as much as we were tied to the tourguide for his expert narration. When you have privacy like this, it's hard to believe you're still in the same century and on the same planet you left back in the City, much less back in your hometown.
As one of my hobbies is photography, wow I had a great time. During our visit here we had plenty of free time to walk around alone. And I used that free time to search for the best location for some great shots.
This one is made with a telephoto lens from the first level of the Pyramid of the Moon. What you see are few of the temple terraces near the Moon Plaza and in the back the big Pyramid of the Sun.
Favorite thing: We entered the archeological site, via the entrance where the museum is. And once you passed the museum, and other modern buildings, this is the view you’ll get. WOW, doesn’t that look wonderful. On the right you see the big Pyramid of the Sun (Piramide del Sol) and further on the Pyramid of the moon (Piramide de la Luna) and in the back the Volcano Cerro Gordo.
We entered the archeological site of Teotihuacán via the South-West entrance. This is the entry where the Museum is. There are also some Souvenir stalls, but as we were there early, most of them were not yet open.
Entry fee was 35 pesos.
Note that in Mexico on Sunday you do not have to pay entry fee if you want to visit an archeological site. I am not sure if this is also the case for museums.