The arecheological site of the Teotihuacan Ruins is only around 40 kilometres or 25 miles from the centre of Mexico City and is one of the most impressive and accessible archeological sites in Mexico. The city was once home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people at it’s height from about 150 – 450 AD. At the time this would have made it one of the largest cities in the world. To give the timeframes some perspective the Teotihuacan city rose and fell before the Aztecs were even around, and indeed they thought of the site as sacred and were the ones who gave the name to the site.
The site covers an enormous area, just over 80 square kilometres. It has been a UNESCO Heritage listed site since 1987. The Tiotihuacan Ruins have some of the largest pyramids in the pre-columbian Americas and the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world. As with their Egyptian counterparts the pyramids have hidden chambers and passages that were used as places of worship. The site als includes an impressive 4 kilometre long street known as Calle de los Muertos (The Street of the Dead) which is lined with temples, places of worship, platforms and palaces. In the Palace of Jaguars there are some very well preserved colour murals, and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl has some impressive sculptures.
Although there is still much to learn about the site and the inhabitants that lived there, it is thought that the city may have been multi-ethnic with distinct areas occupied by the Mayans, Zapotec, Mixtecs, Nahua and Otomi. Many aspects of the Teotihuacans have been enthusiastically debated. It appears that the cultures influence was spread far and wide with architectural styles being found in other sites throughout Mexico. The city is thought to have collapsed around the 7th or 8th centuries following a fire that swept through large parts of it. The fire may have been the result of an attack by the Toltecs or even the result of an internal rising against the cities elite. Whatever the case, there was no major attempt at rebuilding the city and it fell to ruin.
Visiting the site will involve a lot of walking and possibly climbing, so come prepared with footwear, sunscreen, water and hat, and of course don’t forget the camera. There are refreshments available on site but it may be a long walk for a drink if the need arises. If possible get there either early or late in the day to avoid the worst of the crowds and the heat.