After we had explored the colorful and lively scenery of Mexico City´s street and food markets in this previous blog post, it was now time for the first trip over the city´s borders to one of Mexico´s most famous archeological sites: Teotihuacán.
This ancient Mesoamerican city is located approximately 48 kilometres (30 miles) northeast of downtown Mexico City and can easily be reached by public buses.
Teotihuacán is particularly famous for its two well-preserved Mesoamerican pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.
While it is believed today, that the founding of the city must have been somewhere around 100 BC, Teotihuacán reached around 125,000 inhabitants at peak times somewhere in the half of the first millennium AD. Making it, if true, at this time the sixth largest city in the world during this epoch.
Legends report that the city had been invaded and burnt down in the 7th or 8th century, yet modern archeologists claim to have found evidence, that the burning took place at a much earlier stage at around 550 AD. Some suggest that the destruction could also be part of an internal uprise as primarily structures and housing of the ruling class had been affected.
Whatever the reason may be though, walking the site (and not exactly knowing what happened to the mighty city of Teoticuacán) makes this visit magical and definitely mysterious. Not to mention the impressive architecture that had been established and hand-built. Especially when you overlook the endless Avenue of the Dead from the top of the Pyramid of the Moon. The preciseness in arrangement and layout as well as the grouping and arrangement of the buildings makes my mind wander.
Is this really all man-made or did the people at that time had the help of some mysterious force? Maybe not from this world?
Well, we probably won´t know for another few hundred years. And maybe we don´t want to know either. Fact is, you have to walk the ruins yourself and sense the mystic. It is a great way to spend the day and learn something about the rich culture and history that Mexico has to offer.
How to get to/from Teotihuacán?
Buses run on a very frequent schedule (every 20 minutes) from Terminal Autobuses del Norte, situated across the street from metro station Autobuses del Norte (line 5). The ticket booth lies at the left end of the building (when standing in front of it) close to Sala 8 (Gate 8). It shows a stylized blue pyramid on a sign above the booth and Teotihuacán written out. The return ticket comes at 92 Pesos per person (4,49 EUR/5,13 USD – as of April 2016). Seats on the trip to the pyramids are fixed and printed on the ticket. Credit cards are accepted, just hold some 5 Pesos coins in your pocket if you need to use a public bathroom in the terminal! After about one hour drive and a few stops in-between, the bus driver will drop you off at Puerta 1 of Zona Arqueologico. This is where you can take the bus back to Mexico City once your are finished with your visit. Other departure spots are at Puerta 2 (close to the Pyramid of the Sun) or Puerta 3 (close to the Pyramid of the Moon). Come about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. During peak seasons, the buses fill up fast and seats are distributed first come, first serve.
Entrance fees and what to bring?
The entrance fee to Teotihuacán is 64 Pesos per person (as of April 2016). It is better to have it cash with you as I do not know wherever they have credit card machines available. The fee includes the visit to the museum and the usage of your camera (photos only!). If you are planning to bring your video camera, the fee is higher! I think it was around 90 or 100 Pesos. I would recommend to wear sturdy shoes or walking boots, especially if you plan to climb up the pyramids. The area is quite rocky in general and some stones can be sharp. Bring sun screen and a hat to cover your face and neck. The sun is very strong (even if cloudy!). There is concessions stands at Puerta 1 and Puerta 3 where you can buy drinks and snacks, I always have a bottle of water along with me for emergencies though.
Some personal advice
Visit the site best in the morning. During summer months, the sun can be very, very merciless. Particularly in the hours between noon and afternoon. If you are afraid of heights, mounting the pyramids is probably not the best idea. Especially the last part of the Pyramid of the Sun is extremely steep. Speaking of mounting, the whole site of Teotihuacán is huge.Walking and climbing over hours in the sun can be very exhausting for your body and mind. Make sure to drink water frequently and to take breaks. Otherwise, you may face situations like I did during my visit, where I left my wallet with all my cards, my ID, the return tickets to Mexico City and lots of money at one of the concession stands close to the Pyramid of the Moon. And I didn´t realize before already passing the Pyramid of the Sun (and that´s quite a distance!). Luckily, I got the wallet back after almost getting a heart attack! So, don´t overstrain yourself. Slips of the pen happen when you´re exhausted. Remember: Adventure is always supposed to be fun, too. So why not taking a well deserved break and sunbath on top of the Pyramid of the Moon before heading back?
Whenever you head to explore the magic of Teotihuacán, I hope you will have as much fun as we did. It´s a fab place and absolutely worth a visit. Here is a few more snapshots. Enjoy!