Day Trip to Teotihuacan: History and Mystery

by | Jul 4, 2017

Teotihuacan: ancient pyramids discovered by the Aztecs and turned into the largest metropolis in pre-Columbian America, and largely forgotten by history until the twentieth century. This archaeological site is shrouded in mystery, full of architectural splendors, and a mere 1-hour trip away from Mexico City, so when Juan Pablo and I visited Mexico City recently, we simply had to visit.

Like all day trips crammed into short international vacations, we wracked our brains about the best way to get there, and how to spend our time once we arrived. Before telling you about our experience getting to and exploring the pyramids, let me give you some options for getting there:

Public transportation. Take a bus from the Terminal Central del Norte del D.F. (accessible by Metro on the “Autobuses del Norte” station) to the Zona Archaeoligica. Buses run from 6am until 10pm, and leave every 15 minutes in both directions. When returning from the pyramids, the bus stop is available at doors 1, 2, or 3. This will cost you about $5 USD roundtrip.

Tour companies. There are tons of companies and/or individual guides willing to transport you and give a tour of Teotihuacan. This typically costs around $40 USD.

Uber. Tight on time, or don’t want a tour? Uber will get you there and back for about $40 USD.

Not having planned very well, and crunched for time, Juan Pablo and I decided to take Uber. It was ultraconvenient, but far pricier than public transportation. When we arrived in the town where Teotihuacan is located, we made a pit stop at the market, and had breakfast at one of the stalls. We had coffee (of course) and delicious Mexican style scrambled eggs with tomato, onions, peppers, and served with warm handmade tortillas and refried beans. All of this food for the two of us cost less than $5 USD. Not to mention it was one of the most delicious breakfasts we had in Mexico. After breakfast, we walked over to a taxi stand, which delivered us to the archaeological site for les than $2 USD. We then paid the approximately $4 USD entry fee, and then set off on our adventure.

So what is Teotihuacan?

Discovered most recently in the early twentieth century, archaeologists uncovered this magnificent city site. The city is thought to have been built as early as 400 BC, but became a thriving city between 100 and 700 AD. Little is known about the people who built and inhabited the city at that time. At its height, though, it is believed to have been a major trading post with thriving agricultural practices that housed between 100,000 and 200,000 people. Furthermore, headless human remains along with wild animal remains that were discovered beneath the pyramids have led scholars to hypothesize that whatever religion was practiced involved human and animal sacrifice. Beyond these basic details, though, nobody knows what language was spoken, where these people came from, or where they went when they abandoned the city around 750 AD (though some speculate that an internal war caused the ruling class to flee, and consequently the city’s power over the region waned).

Around 1300 AD the Aztecs discovered the ruins of Teotihuacan, and returned it once more to a thriving metropolis. Impressed by the architectural majesty, the Aztecs claimed this was the place where gods sacrificed themselves so that the world could be reborn. The city was important not only as a religious site for the Aztecs, but also as a place for trade and inhabitants.

 

What does it look like today?

Pyramid of the Sun, towering above 200 feet

Have questions about Teotihuacan or Mexico City? Leave us a comment or send us an email – we’d love to help out!

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Laura is one half of the traveling couple behind CoupleTakes. When she’s not traveling, she works as a law librarian in Las Vegas, NV and loves exploring the beautiful desert landscapes in the Southwestern United States on the weekends. Read her posts here.

Juan Pablo is one half of the traveling couple behind CoupleTakes. When he is not traveling he is at a desk somewhere pursuing his studies for his PhD Program in Modern Thought & Literature at Stanford University. Read his posts here.