Mexico’s magnificent Teotihuacan

Sitting about 25 miles from Mexico City, the Teotihuacan archeological zone preserves some of the largest and most impressive prehistoric structures in the world. Believed to have been occupied for about 500 years beginning around the the first century, the city’s population was estimated to have been about 125,000. The highlight of the site is the giant Pyramid of the Sun, which rises approximately 800 feet above the surrounding plaza and covers an area of almost 3,800 square feet.

Most tourists swarm to the massive Pyramid of the Sun (Pyrámide del Sol) is 246 feet tall, making it the third-tallest pyramid in the world, sitting on a square base of 637,000 square feet (about 14.5 acres or 11 football fields). It’s possible to climb the stairs to the very top of the pyramid, which I think is ironic considering that when they were built, the pyramids were off-limits to all but royalty and high-priests.

I went on a Sunday afternoon, as did a few thousand other common people. The archaeological zone is open to the public free of charge on Sundays, so it gets pretty crowded. It also happened to be the day after an NFL football game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots and I was amazed at how many of the visitors were wearing black Raiders gear. The

Admission is free to the archaeological zone on Sundays and the Calzada de los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead), fills up with living tourists and vendors.

lines approaching the stairs up the Pyramid and the open areas of the Pyramid looked like they had been decorated with black bunting or something.

Fortunately, I was spending the night in a hotel adjacent to the zone and planning on returning on Monday morning. I was glad to have seen the crowd on Sunday and even more glad to be there almost alone on Monday.

 

The front stairs of the main pyramid of the Templo Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan.
One of the detailed heads that adorn the main pyramid of the Templo Quetzalcoatl.
An alabaster carving of Tlaloc, the water god, found at Teotihuacan and on display in its museum.
A model of the city in the museum of Teotihuacan, at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun.
Tourists climb the Pyramid of the Sun, with the Pyramid of the Moon in the distance.
A lone visitor walks on an upper terrace level of the Pyramid of the Sun, with the Pyramid of the Moon in the background.
The magnificent Pyramid of the Sun rises almost 900 feet above the plazas of the archeological site of Teotihuacan.