Mexico City is well known for its excellent museums. Unfortunately we do not enjoy being locked up indoors for too long. That is why we rather go to the outdoors museums, and that is where Mexico is unique. Of all the living museums we’ve visited, Teotihuacan is our favorite.
Teotihuacan is not far from Mexico City. We left our hotel at about nine in the morning from the Zona Rosa and by midday we were already atop the Pyramid of the Sun. This was after visiting a souvenir shop where they gave us a drink made from an indigenous plant and a piece of obsidian for good luck. They also offered some tequila but we passed on the offering.
According to the tour guide the ruins at Teotihuacan belong to an agricultural civilization which began around 600 BC. Unfortunately either the guide didn’t know the name of this culture or the name has been lost to time. 500 years latter their culture solidified and the building of the impressive pyramids started.
That culture prospered and maintained commerce with other civilizations, many of which were quite far away in those times, in several places of Mesoámerica. Then 750 years later this enigmatic culture disappeared leaving behind only its monuments.
Our guide also told us that in reality very little is known of the Teotihuacan culture. To make things worse, the names we commonly call the buildings, places, and even beliefs are those the Aztecs, which was a very different culture, gave them.
It is true that Teotihuacan was a sacred place for the Aztecs. They were the ones that named it Teotihuacan, which means something around the lines of “where the men turn into gods.” There are indications that they did not have much concrete information of the place they called “Calle de los Muertos” or the “Street of the Dead” which is the main avenue that runs north to south. They though the inhabitants of this city had been giants.
We started this visit at the “Ciudadela” or fortress, where we saw the temple of Quetzalcóatl and Tláloc. Then we walked the “Calle de los Muertos” to the “Pirámide del Sol” where we made the long walk up to it’s top. We returned to the Street of the Dead and continued heading down towards the “Pirámide de la Luna.” We didn’t climb this pyramid seeing as our legs could not take the strain. We ended the tour at the “Palacio de Quetzalpapálotl”.
We, as all the other visitors, were allowed to walk through most of Teotihuacan. It was also allowed for the general public to climb the main pyramids, those of the Sun and the Moon. The entire area is prepared to the needs of the visitors, or at least that is how we saw it. There are also cafeterias and several souvenir stores. Outside the park there are many restaurants and some small but very attractive hotels.
Remember we are not travel agents nor tourist guides. Our visit to Teotihuacan was that of regular people having fun. Had it been a sunny day it would have been a good idea to take some sunscreen. But it was one of those winter cloudy days when we went and we were glad we took our jackets, especially on top of the pyramids.