Northeast of Mexico City is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas known as “Teotihuacan”, called “The City of the Gods”. Designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, it is home to Mexico’s most impressive archaeological sites which include three most monumental structures – the three ancient pyramids:
Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of Quetzalcoat
Exploring the sites of the ruins is a travel back in time. The construction of this multi-ethnic holy city commenced around 300 BC and is thought to have been established around 100 BC with a population reaching to 150,000 at its peak. The city is held together by the main thoroughfare, the 2.5 mile long “Avenue of the Dead” (Calzada de los Muertos) connecting the Pyramid of the Moon, Pyramid of the Sun and various buildings. The reason for the decline of the city and its civilization after 450 AD is unknown and still remains an enigma to historians and archaeologists. .
Located at southern end of the Avenue of the Dead, the Pyramid (Temple) of Quetzalcoatl, third largest pyramid, also known as “Temple of Feathered Serpent, is a six-level step pyramid with the outside edges of each level decorated with feathered serpent heads. Evidences of sacrificial burials were discovered beneath the structure as part of the dedication to the temple. In front of the structure is a gigantic open sunken square, the Ciudadela (Citadel) – the parade ground and religious centre.
The second largest temple is the Pyramid of the Moon with its main stairway facing the Avenue of the Dead. The 151-foot high pyramid reflecting the shape of the sacred peak of the hill directly behind it, the Cerro Gordo, is composed of seven pyramids built on top of each other. Ceremonial burials have also been located within the pyramid which is surrounded by small temple and the Palace of Quetzalpapaloti with its striking butterfly paintings.
Looming over the city is the majestic Pyramid of the Sun, the third largest pyramid in the world and the largest and highest structure in Teotihuacan. Built without metal tools, or animals, or wheels, it stands 230 feet (70 meters) high with 243 steps. The front wall of the Pyramid of the Sun is exactly “in perfect synchronization and exactly perpendicular to the point on the horizon where the sun sets every evening” with the rest of the buildings built at right angles to it.
Charging my body with energy by climbing to the top of the pyramid and making a wish (according to city’s legend) is quite an experience. The view from the apex are among the most extraordinary in the country.
This gem of Mexico’s history and culture is definitely worth seeing. Don’t visit Mexico City without visiting Teotihuacan.