Explore Teotihuacan, Mexico
Explore Teotihuacan also known as the City of the Gods, an archeological site 40 km northeast of Mexico City. Náhuatl for “the place where men became gods”, Teotihuacán is home to some of the largest ancient pyramids in the world. According to legend, it was here where the gods gathered to plan the creation of man.
Teotihuacán was the largest Pre-Columbian city in the Americas, reaching a total population of 150,000 at its height. The name also refers to the civilization this city dominated, which at its greatest extent included most of Mesoamerica.
Construction of Teotihuacán commenced around 300 BC, with the Pyramid of the Sun built by 150 BC. 150–450 AD.
Many of the artifacts from the site have prudently been moved to National Anthropological Museum, in Mexico City. Elevation: 2,300m.
There is an entrance fee to enter the park (museum included). This is a large site, a lot of walking is required as there few other ways to navigate the complex, unless you have a car, then you can freely drive around the perimeter (if you are staying at the hotel in the park or heading to one of the many restaurants). There are tractor-drawn wagons with seats and shelter that run on a schedule known only to them. If you go by bus, they will deliver you to a drop off point, from which you will be required to walk. If you tire easily, pack light for this excursion.
Note that the site is free for residents of Mexico on Sundays, so you might want to visit on an alternate day. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically the slowest days of the week.
There are licensed guides who speak English after you give them your entrance ticket. The tour is quite insightful as they talk about some details of the Temple of the Serpent which you would otherwise miss if you went straight to the top of the Temple of the Sun and Moon.
There are plenty of friendly park police there who also control automobile traffic. Taxi drivers are not allowed to drive you around the site, unless you have a destination, like a restaurant, inside of the park. If you are adventurous and lucky, you may be able to rent a bicycle to ride around the perimeter on the cobble stone road (a bit bouncy). If you do not have an opportunity to explore the perimeter where the shops, restaurants and old buildings are, you are missing out. A little creativity should help you find some transportation inside of the complex. The locals are very friendly and a few pesos will go a long way. Try to at least find a ride around the perimeter to view the complex; it will be worth the effort.
You can go to the nearby town of San Juan Teotihuacan for restaurants, ATMs, or other services. It’s a crowded town 5 ~ 10 minutes taxi ride away. You can catch a taxi at any gate.
What to see. Best top attractions in Teotihuacan, Mexico
This site has a lot of small pyramids, but there are four main attractions:
- The Temple of the Moon – A medium sized pyramid off from the center of the complex.
- The Temple of the Sun – The largest pyramid in the structure with an excellent view of the surrounding mountains. Wear sunscreen, they don’t call it the Temple of the Sun for nothing.
- The Temple of Quetzalcoatl – One of the most sacred Temples in the complex. This temple is decorated with many stone serpent heads.
- Museo Teotihuacán – The museum at the park with outstanding displays and a miniature recreation of the entire site. Well worth the visit. Close to Puerta 5.
There are also some smaller structures surrounding the complex, no more than four or five meters in height. A drive around the perimeter, on the road along the park will provide many surprises and is worth the trip. Hitching a ride or even paying a few pesos for a ride will be worth the effort.
There are also many interesting constructions along the Avenue of the Dead which runs along the middle of the site, so don’t just walk from one temple to the other. On the left side of the plaza in front of the Temple of the Moon are several areas including the Palace of the Jaguars which house many wall paintings, sculptures, and underground rooms.
What to do in Teotihuacan, Mexico
You can exit one of the back gates into the adjacent town of San Juan Teotihuacán. There you can shop for consumer items like groceries, water, bakery items, fresh OJ and such.
Fly on a hot air balloon over the pyramids and enjoy a traditional toast after the flight. Flying Pictures Mexico is an English company, has operated balloon flights for many years, and has no problem speaking to you in English and giving you the service you expect. They are also very safe; all their balloons are Cameron Balloons.
What to buy
Museo Teotihuacán has an official gift store nearby with a small selection of books, clothing, and souvenirs.
There are many vendors selling “silver” products here; though at one time Mexicans believed silver was cheap and touristy, many today collect and wear silver. Be sure the silver is marked “.925” or / and “Sterling” – and if it is too shiny it might be “Alpaca”, which is also called “German Silver” and contains no silver at all. Your best bet is the museum shops and better silver jewelry stores in Mexico City, Taxco, etc.
You will find black, silver and gold sheen obsidian (volcanic glass) rocks and carvings for sale. Some will be just a round stone, or something more elaborate like a statue or head. Also, there will be salesmen everywhere with “Aztec” flutes, clay idols (some are still found today), stone carvings, etc. These are generally reproductions that are aged, but if you did acquire an original you are violating strict laws and could encounter trouble and stiff fines from the authorities on the site or at the airport.
Around the inside perimeter of the site you will find several shops that not only sell, but also manufacture, obsidian art and other stone objects for sale. Shop and compare quality and prices before buying. You can find quality reproductions here and at FONART shops in the city.
What to eat
There are a plenty of restaurants near the exits of the complex, inside and outside of the park and in the hotels in San Juan Teotihuacan as well as grocery stores and bakeries. Consider having one prepare a picnic for you and enjoy it at the park.
Museo Teotihuacán has an area close by with public bathrooms as well as several vending machines with drinks and snacks.
What to drink
There are a lot of small vendors in and outside the complex that sell water, juices, and sodas. Alcohol is available at the hotel and several vendors around the perimeter (on the road) sell cold beer. Drinks are available from vending machines near the Museo.
Official tourism websites of Teotihuacan
For more information please visit the official government website: