Teotihuacan in Mexico: Tours and visitor information
Together with Chichen Itza, Teotihuacan is one of the most popular attrations in Mexico.
Most hotels and travel agencies in Mexico City offer tours to Teotihuacan.
Tours last for approximately six hours and they usually include a side trip to a Mexican market and the renowned Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
First stop at Teotihuacan is the small museum, which shows the chronology of the site.
The people who lived at Teotihuacan were believed to worship the rain god there are many interesting artifacts on display – polished lava tools fashioned from the surrounding volcanic hills, jade, believed to have come from China, and a necklace made out of human teeth.
Priests apparently used to pull out their teeth and wear them around their necks as status symbols.
More than likely, though, the teeth came from the many thousands of human sacrifices that were offered down the years as appeasement to the gods.
People came from all around to witness the sacrificial ceremonies and the Ciudadela (the Citadel) which could seat 60,000 people at one time, is the largest building in Mexico.
Worshippers sat in a courtyard while a priest went to each corner, lit a holy fire and muttered incantations in preparation for the religious rites.
To the right of the courtyard is a pyramid which, for centuries, was covered by a larger one. The larger one acted as a protection for the one underneath and it is the best preserved artifact in the whole of Mexico.
The Ciudadela in front of Moon Pyramid
It has also been partly restored. If you follow a catwalk in front of the pyramid you can see the remains of what must have been a magnificent mural.
Much of the original color is still visible and there are figures of Quetzalcoatl, the serpent god. His coils are wound around conches and seashells – proof that the ancient people had contact with the coast.
But it is the 85-metre high Pyrmid of the Sun that is the highlight of a visit to Teotihuacan .
Avenue of the Dead and Pyramids at Teotihuacan
To reach it, you have to run the gauntlet of Indian peddlers who try to push their trinkets at everyone entering the imposing Street of the Dead.
At the end is another pyramid, the 35-metre high Pyramid of the Moon, and the whole place is scattered with temples and palaces. (More than 2,500 buildings have been excavated.)
The ruins sink into insignificance beside the magnificent monument that dominates the scene. Believed to be more than 2,000 years old, the Pyramid of the Sun is made from more than 100 million bricks and is larger than the great pyramids of Giza.
The Pyramid of the Sun was given its name because the sun sets exactly in front of it at the summer solstice. Prisoners were marched up its stone steps, so steep that the top cannot be seen from the bottom. They were constructed that way deliberately, so those standing at the bottom got the impression that those at the top disappeared into the heavens. The unfortunate souls who made it to the top did indeed disappear. They were promptly slaughtered with daggers and their hearts were ripped out and offered to the gods.
Pyramid of the Sun
Today visitors can climb to the peak in relative safety, though it is not uncommon to pass out en route. Teotihuacan is more than 2,000 metres above sea level. The air is thin at that altitude and most people make the mistake of over-exerting themselves. Guides assure you, though, that there are ambulances close at hand.