28 February 2011

Mexican Meanders: Exploring Teotihuacán

Since I am a fan of historical and archaeological sites, I figured that it would be a bad decision if I visited Mexico City and not visit Teotihuacán, especially, since this happens to be one of the largest archaeological sites in Mexico, and it happens to be just about an hour away from the city. Thus, the day before I left Mexico, Puku and I decided to head off and see what Teotihuacán is all about (for a different perspective, I suggest reading his blog post about the same visit).

First, it involved us going to the bus station. Since Teotihuacán was located north of the city, we had to go to the North Terminal. Once we got there, it was interesting to see that there were buses that went everywhere. There were even buses that went all the way to Chicago! For all intents and purposes I could have hopped on one of those and then catch a Greyhound bus to Buffalo. I wonder how long that return trip that would take.

Anyway, our bus ride was shorter than that. We bought tickets, and fifteen minutes later, our bus was on our way. As is the case with Puebla, I enjoyed the bus ride. After an hour, we found ourselves in Gate 1 and bought our entrance tickets. After fending off the tour guides that offered their services, we went in and saw the great enormous expansive archaeological complex. This I think is the second largest archaeological complex that I have seen so far, the largest being Machu Picchu.

Upon entering, we saw the above plaque. Yes, I have another UNESCO World Heritage Site under my belt. I wonder how many world heritage sites I have visited already. I should start counting, because seriously, they're awesome. It makes me want to be an anthropologist, although the fact that most anthropologists do fieldwork in remote places and take ages to finish their dissertation is kind of a deterrent.

The next four photos you see above give a glimpse of what this site is all about. Since we entered Gate 1, it was immediately next to the Temple of the Jaguar. There's three big archaeological units here in Teotihuacán: The Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Temple of the Jaguar. The Temple of the Jaguar is located on the south side of the whole complex, and it is surrounded by these smaller installations that act like a perimeter area. The first of the four photos above show one side of the perimeter area, composed of four different stone platforms. On the background you can see the Pyramid of the Sun, which we climbed later.

If you look at the next photo, it shows a detail of the Temple of the Jaguar. The jaguar head is featured prominently in the staircases and on the walls. I am not sure whether the excavation for this one is finished, since there were clearly signs of on-going work.

Finally, the third and fourth photos show several other smaller units of the temple: there's a stone platform right smack in the middle of the courtyard, shown in the third photo, and the fourth photo just shows another section of the perimeter area.

The whole archaeological complex also contains a small museum. This houses the various artifacts that were found. There were some interesting human skeletal remains that were on exhibit, but perhaps the most interesting one for me was this big stone figure of a head. I am not sure what animal this is trying to depict, but it was definitely big.

The two photos above show the Pyramid of the Sun: this was our next stop. This is the third largest pyramid in the world, after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Pyramid of Gaza. The second photo shows a detail of the pyramid surface, which made me think how awesome it would be if one can rock-climb on that surface. It reminded me of the flying steps that I have seen when I was in Peru.

The next two photos above show some sampling of the view from the Pyramid of the Sun. We climbed all the way to the top, and I forgot at which level I took these two photos. The view from the top however, was amazing, and it shows how big the whole complex is. In the second photo, you can see Puku exploring the edge of that particular level.

This is the view of the Pyramid of the Moon from the Pyramid of the Sun. Unfortunately, one cannot climb the Pyramid of the Moon all the way to the top, just at the level before that. It also shows a section of the Avenue of the Dead.

Of course we went to the Pyramid of the Moon, so after descending from the Pyramid of the Sun, we headed there. We walked down the Avenue of the Dead, and this is how it looked like. There were several smaller structures on both sides, and one can climb up and down them as they please.

So yes, overall, this was an awesome visit. We scheduled it to be the last thing I visit before I leave the country, so it was a great way to end a vacation. This doesn't mean however, that my travel blog entries are done. There are still plenty of things I haven't blogged about; watch out for them soon!


  1. Wow, very captivating narration! It reminded me of the place, and how sunny it was compared to Toronto which is wet and dark right now.

    I think you should conclude with a 'summary' post, with top 3 pictures or something like that - just a suggestion!

  2. Puku,

    Thanks! I'm debating about that summary post, I'll probably do that with stuff that I don't have pictures about. In any case, there's still several entries on the drawing board at this point!

  3. It hasn't changed much since I first visited, ten years ago!

    This was the first place Feng and I visited together, a day after I met him in Mexico. I was still jet-lagged but I loved it. We climbed everywhere.

  4. Zhu,

    Well I am glad to bring you memories! It definitely is a good thing to see pictures of old times, which is why part of me wants to go back to Japan just to see how Nishinomiya (the city where I lived for 4.5 years back in the late 90s) has been doing nowadays.

  5. I do feel happy when I visit any UNESCO World Heritage Site - having been been bestowed by a multi-national body with experts in their field (and not like the popularity contest "new seven wonders..."), this distinction is thus given more credibility. Seeing all of UNESCO's list is another matter - there's just so many that I won't be able to see them all.

    BTW, if I had plenty of time, I'd love to travel by bus all the way to the tip of South America!

  6. TNP,

    Ah, a bus travel to Ushuaia would be awesome, except for the Darien Gap! If only I can find all that time to do that trip!

  7. It looks like you had the site all for yourself!
    I would have expected bus loads of tourists !

  8. Sidney,

    Oh we went really early! There were only five people including us who got off the bus to go there from Mexico City. Although by lunchtime, there were plenty of people climbing the pyramids.

  9. I noticed that too, it's not crowded with tourist. :) Oh how I wish I can afford to visit it someday. thnx for sharing! :)

  10. thepinaysolobackpacker,

    You're welcome, and welcome to the blog!