Place Where Gods Were Born
Greetings from the stunning ancient city of Teotihuacan. Being the most visited place in Mexico there is no doubt to wonder why. Every visitor to Mexico City should include this place in their list, not only if you are just visiting DF or if on a wider tour around other cities across the country. It is one of the highlights of the American continent and for civilization lovers, it is one of the greatest places in the world. Included on any list of to-dos in a lifetime, of course listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
As opposed to what most people think, this is not a city from the ancient Maya, but from the Aztecs, although still unknown who precisely founded it. All that is known is that at the time, over 2000 years ago, it was already one of the largest cities on earth.
Today you can still admire such an impressive pyramidal structures, and the crown jewel of all, both the Sun and Moon pyramids; everything symmetrically organised along the Avenue of the Dead (Calzada de los Muertos). Incredible to think of such engineering and impressive techniques to build such enormous monuments. And consider that all you see there today are the stone constructions; now imagine how it would be looking in the ancient times with the countless homes made of wood surrounding the complex. Big! Yes, very big and overwhelming.
Since the site is easy and straightforward for visiting, I leave you the right directions (or instructions) below on how to do the best and most optimal way. Certainly what you will not want is ending up rushing the time, nor having to unnecessarily walk twice, especially in a place where is hard to find any shadow when the sun is out.
For more information about this site, visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN, MEX$ or $). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get to Teotihuacan
In Mexico City buses leave from the Terminal del Norte Bus Station. Easy accessible on the metro Line 5, Autobuses del Norte station. Buses leave at around every 20 minutes and cost around Mex$80 for an open return ticket. These buses will drop people at more than one entrance to the archaeological site of Teotihuacan. You should get off at the very beginning, at Puerta 1, because once inside, you will be walking all the way towards the opposite side which is Puerta 3.
As for where to get the return bus, do it at Puerta 3. This way you will not have to walk all the way back to where you started the visit, or the middle entrance. But you will be very glad that I tell you this, because at Puerta 3 there will be not so many people waiting for the bus therefore you will get on it quick and secure a seat. Pay attention when the bus stops in Puerta 2 and then at 1 how big the queue of people waiting to get inside is. Buses will take only a few of them and leave. You could be waiting for a bus well over 1 hour.
Entrance fee to the archaeological park is Mex$57 (as of January 2014). In this case, no extra ticket is needed like for most of the Mayan cities in Mexico specially in Yucatan. Should you hold a student card, then it’s free but only valid for Mexican student cards.
How to visit the site
Do not have in mind that you need a full day here. Not at all, some hours is more than enough. From our experience, we arrived at around 13.00 and left 4 hours after. So as briefly mentioned before in how to get there, the bus will drop you at Puerta 1, this is the main entrance to the complex right at the very beginning of it. Once inside, head straight where you will see the first square, the Market. Here you will intersect with the Avenue of the Dead, but do not walk towards the other end yet, head instead still straight towards the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. You will climb your first pyramid, and then you will see the bigger one behind. This is the Temple of Quetzalcoatl.
Walk back to the Avenue of the Dead, and walk all the way towards the largest pyramid of the site, the Pyramid of the Sun. You will pass many plazas climbing up and down. Since all of them are the same in appearance, you can walk instead on the sides, where you don’t need to go up and down all the time.
Of course the visit cannot be completed unless you climb all the way up to the 3rd largest pyramid in the world (after that in Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza). Unfortunately there is no shadow where you can cover yourself from the radiant sun and heat, and the usual queue does not make things easier. Be patient, it’s well worth it.
As for the last part of the visit, walk towards the end, the Pyramid of the Moon. And although you will be very tired and perhaps “saturated” and wishing to leave (I insist again, the heat and sun are not easy here), make your affords to climb the few steps for this pyramid. You won’r regret it. From here you will get the finest views of the whole complex, and if you happen to be in the afternoon hours here (around 16.00-17.00pm), it’s when you will get the best light/shadow effect.
This pyramid is near Puerta 3 where you should leave to take the bus back to DF. Remember to take some bottles of water with you. Inside there were almost no one selling drinks, and the few were quoting ripping off prices. Other than that, if you can hold your thirst, right after you leave the site at any of the gates you will see many shops with normal prices.
Along the way inside and outside of Teotihuacan you will find many vendors selling nice masks of various materials, and many other stuff. After doing a whole tour across Central America, I can promise you this is the place where I found the cheapest masks of all the places I visited. Do not hesitate in getting all your souvenirs here. As a point of reference, the first mask we got (big and made of stones) was for 180 Mex$, the second for 160 and the third for 150 Mex$. Also good to remember that is you shop more than one from the same vendor, surely you will get the price lower than 150 Mex$.
Speaking Spanish also helps a lot. They will sell you at lower price almost immediately. And if you keep some conversation with the vendor and share some laughs, you will get great discount.