Teotihuacán, City of the Gods

3 min to read

Teotihuacán, City of the Gods

Mexico and UNESCO

I came to Mexico City hoping to find what's left over of the ancient civilizations that used to roam these places, but modern civilization has mostly taken over by now. It wasn't until I visited Teotihuacán, an archaeological site just outside of Mexico City, that I was truly awed! Little is known about what civilization were the founders of Teotihuacán around 100BC, and why it collapsed somewhere between the 7th and 8th century. What we do know is that it was of major political & religious importance and a center of industry, and it was once the largest city in the Americas, with an estimated population of 150,000 at its peak.

Nowadays, Teotihuacán is one of Mexico's most popular archaeological sites where its 3 large pyramids steal the show. It's popular and relatively crowded, but the site is large enough that it doesn't get annoying.

Pirámide de la Luna

Plaza de la Luna, as seen from the Pirámide de la Luna Plaza de la Luna and Pirámide del Sol (as seen from the Pirámide de la Luna)

At the north end of the site is the Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacán's second largest pyramid. It was dedicated to The Great Goddess of Teotihuacán: the primary deity, the goddess of water, fertility, the earth and creation.

On the south side of the pyramid is a platform where ceremonies for the Great Goddess were conducted. At the bottom of the platform is the Plaza de la Luna with a central alter where they were conducting excavations when I was there. South of the Plaza starts the Avenue of the Dead, the city's central avenue flanked by countless other platforms and temples.

Pirámide del Sol

Pirámide del Sol, as seen from the Ciudadela Pirámide del Sol (as seen from the Ciudadela)

The Pyramid of the Sun: the largest building in Teotihuacán and the third largest pyramid in the world in ancient times, only to be outdone by the Great Pyramid of Giza (twice as high) and the 90 km (55 mi) away Great Pyramid of Cholula (which is not as high, but is bigger in volume due to it's much larger base.)

So how big are we talking here? The pyramid has a base of 222m (728 ft) on each side and is over 70 m (>230 ft) high, making for a staircase of 248 steps rather big steps before you reach the top. Yes you can climb it! Some of the steps are pretty big, though, so if you're not in perfect shape, you can rest on one of the tableros, the horizontal bits in between the slopes.

It is unknown what deity this pyramid is associated with.

Templo de Quetzalcóatl

Templo de Quetzalcóatl Templo de Quetzalcóatl close-up

At the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead is the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (the temple is covered with feathered serpent heads) and the Ciudadela, a massive courtyard surrounding the temple.

Remains of several hundreds of humans, probably captured enemies that have been sacrificed, have been found buried beneath the temple.

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