Visit Teotihuacan in Mexico
A trip to Mexico isn’t complete without a visit to one of the numerous archaeological sites that are distributed throughout the country and that represent the diverse cultures that developed in the territory before the Spaniards’ arrival. Perhaps one of the most renowned sites worldwide is Teotihuacán, located in the State of Mexico, about 50 minutes away from Mexico City.
National Institute of Anthropology and History
This ancient center has been a subject of study for many years; actually, nowadays researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History are using a high-tech laser scanner to explore a subterranean tunnel that was discovered in 2003. The best about this exploration and the technology used in it, which, by the way, doesn’t harm the structures, is that it has allowed experts to gather plenty information that was unknown until recently; for example, that the tunnel, whose entrance is located about 15 meters away from the Quetzalcoatl Temple, connects several underground chambers. What did the Teotihuacans use it for?
Tours to Teotihuacan
If you wish to visit the setting where this groundbreaking research is taking place, plan an escapade to Teotihuacan on your next trip to Mexico. DINKtravelers recommends hiring a tour from Mexico City. You can reserve your departure at the National Auditorium, the Independence Monument or next to the Cathedral, three landmarks for all tourists. The best is that this tour that lasts little more than half a day allows you not only to visit Teotihuacan but also other interesting attractions like the Guadalupe Basilica, obsidian and silver workshops and even some education centers where you’ll learn, among other things, the multiple uses that the maguey plant had and still has. Did someone say tequila tastings?
Interesting Facts About Teotihuacan
Once at Teotihuacan, prepare for an excursion of sun and enigmatic history. For instance, you’ll discover that, in the first place, it’s a common error to call these monuments pyramids because they don’t end in a pointed peak –like the famous pyramids in Egypt– but in a small flat surface. For this reason, in order to sound like an expert, you must call them pyramidal basements. Then, you’ll see that the two biggest constructions known as the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon are similar to the mountains that lay behind them in the surrounding landscape and that, despite seeming to be the same size, the pyramid of the Sun is much bigger although it doesn’t seem like it because the pyramid of the Moon creates a peculiar visual effect given its location in the highest part of the terrain that the site occupies.
Since you’ll need several hours to walk the whole are, don’t forget to wear tennis shoes or hiking boots and take a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a bottle of water; you’ll appreciate having them with you because there’s practically no place on site where you can stand in the shadow.
How to Visit Teotihuacan
Start the tour in the housing structures where they’ll teach you about the way of life of ancient Teotihuacans. Then, head to the architectonic wonders of the site and walk to the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which is magnificently decorated with marine elements and heads of serpents adorned with quetzal feathers carved in stone –they represent the most important god of the Prehispanic pantheon. Two of the main characteristics of this temple are the symmetry you’ll find in the sculptures on both sides of the central stairway and the symbolism of its decorations in political, religious and even astronomical terms.
Then, walk north along the Avenue of the Dead. You’ll find different platforms and basements, all of them in excellent condition; but your next stop will be at the pyramid of the Sun, at your right, halfway along the avenue. According to tradition, you’ll have to climb to the top. The ascent is steep and the steps are unbelievably narrow, so follow DINKtravelers’ advice: lean forward and climb sideways advancing in a diagonal line. To climb down, lean back and go down the steps one by one, always keeping your body perpendicular to the pyramid, not giving your back to it.
If you still have some energy left, end your tour by climbing the pyramid of the Moon, located on the northern end of the avenue. On top of it you’ll have spectacular views of the whole site. What’s more interesting about this monument is that it had a constructive sequence divided in seven stages, so inside it, the six other constructions that preceded the pyramid you’ll see are all superimposed.
Don’t miss the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl (papalotl = butterfly in Nahuatl), the Temple of Feathered Snails and the Palace of Jaguars, all of them harboring astonishing mural paintings and engravings.
Finally, if you enjoy botany, south of the pyramid of the Sun there’s an area where you can find a collection of traditional local flora.