Teotihuacan Pyramids: “The place where men become gods”

As our bus picked us up very early in the morning, we set off for the Mexican city of Teotihuacan, a craddle to the notable and impressive pyramids, northeast of Mexico City. The drive was actually quite fast, and on the way we passed many areas with colorful houses. It was a nice change to the bustle of the city, and the colors got me listening to “Feliz Navidad.”

Quite a few beautiful fields opened up.

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Waves in the horizon

The lucky part of getting there early was that there were pretty much no visitors. So we got the first row seats to the pyramids. Just to provide some perspective, Teotihuacan was an ancient city, a religious center located in the Valley of Mexico, which subsequently gave its name to the Teotihuacan civilization established around 100 BC, with a population of 175,000 at the time, which ranks it as one of the largest cities then with an advanced level of urbanization, economic development, political power, ethnic diversity, and artistic/scientific growth. Unfortunately the city fell around 7th/8th centuries (most likely burned down due to an internal uprising), but had a significant influence on later civilizations (the Aztecs, for example, who adopted many of the cultural aspects almost a 1000 years later, finding the city in ruins). To this day, the historians do not know the original name of the place, as “Teotihuacan” was the name given by the Aztecs. Speaking of the Aztecs, even the ruined city was so impressive that they believed the pyramids could only be built by the Gods, and were never able to build anything as large as this complex, considering this place as a Sacred City.

31814437502_11b32fad81_kWe started off with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (also called the Citadel by the Spanish), which used to act as the main plaza, and a religious and political center of the city, borrowing its name from the feather serpent deity.

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Feathered serpent heads on the left, Tlaloc heads on the right (the god of rain, fertility, and water, or the storm god)

31152789713_39ed7e7648_kFrom here, the mighty Sun and the Moon Pyramids peak out at us. The amazing part is that you can clearly see the huge mountain behind the Moon Pyramid, which was intended to mimic the contours of the Cerro Gordo. But as you get closer, the mountain gets smaller and smaller, until it completely vanishes at the footsteps of the Pyramid, and you can fully admire the impressive grandeur of this site. After the Serpent Temple, we headed for the Pyramid of the Sun, the third largest pyramid in the world, which made up the longest walk and climb of the day (it wasn’t so bad, so don’t be intimidated, visually it’s much scarier than it actually is!). The view from up above was magnificent. A 360 degree marvel of the valley and the Pyramid of the Moon.

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Pyramid of the Sun completed around 100 AD

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Looking over at the Pyramid of the Moon from the Pyramid of the Sun

Our path to the Pyramid of the Moon was quite picturesque, as our guide took us through the nature side with peppercorn trees, which really look like the tree that everyone should have around for Christmas, accompanied by the cactuses.

Even though the Pyramid of the Moon is smaller than the Pyramid of the Sun, it is older than the latter. The top platform was once used for various ceremonies to honor the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, the main goddess of the civilization. Additionally, the Plaza of the Moon added to the overall majestic and otherworldly feeling to the entire site. Definitely my favorite view point. As we finally made it onto the Pyramid, the atmosphere and the endless horizon down the Avenue of the Dead served as an amazing finale to this day. Curtains close here.

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Looking down at the Avenue of the Dead

Next: we set off to visit a nearby village to get a taste of liqueur made of cactus, local tequila, mezcal and pulque. Ignorant us had no idea there were so many types of tequila, some of which really taste like lemonade that one can sip on all day (dangerous!). Our favorite was the “Licor de Xoconostle” that is apparently only sold here, so if you wish get a bottle, do buy it right away (we didn’t find it anywhere else). The owner of the shop taught us a few toasts and dances before sending us for some shopping with about 5 shots of tequila in everyone’s tummy. A good tactic to get everyone warmed up for shopping, I guess! 🙂 According to him, one of the liquors is considered to be a sort of a local viagra, hence the huge population of Mexico. His words, not mine!

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Having had a good (but a bit touristy) lunch, we headed back to Mexico City, all asleep and dreaming of this ancient civilization, all that it was and all that it still is today.

Next stop: Puebla and Cholula!

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