Traditional dancing in front of the Pyramid of the Sun during a celebration of Spring.
Mexico City – Been There

Mexico City’s mysterious pyramids

Photo by Ricardo Beliel

Mexico City – Been There Mexico City’s mysterious pyramids

The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan form an extraordinary pair of ancient monuments.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

Officially, San Juan Teotihuacan is 45 km from Mexico City but the Capital Federal sprawls across such a vast area that the dividing line is a vague one. A four-lane highway runs through some dispersed industrial buildings, offering a glimpse of greenery, before suddenly merging into a country road and the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Teotihuacan.

The site now is noted for two extraordinary structures, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The former is the world’s third largest pyramid at 75 meters in height, while the Pyramid of the Moon is still impressive at

At its heyday, during the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was one of the world’s biggest cities itself, and certainly the largest in the Americas, with a population of perhaps 125,000. When the Aztecs first came upon it, around the 13th century, it had long been abandoned but they were still awed by its size and scale despite its thick covering of overgrowth. They named the broad road connecting the two pyramids, the “Avenue of the Dead” – the name still given it today.

The ghosts of the former inhabitants linger over the site, in the form of the unanswered questions that continue to intrigue researchers and visitors. Why was the city suddenly abandoned around 600 AD? What was the purpose of these massive pyramids and the many other large structures that surround them? Their political and religious functions are hinted at by the many precious offerings and human sacrifices but there is no written record to fill in the details.

Today, the site is besieged by tour coaches and over-run by visitors but it remains so vast that I can still find moments when I am alone amid these tributes to a city's ancient gods and rulers. But it is the sudden detail of an intricate carving or carefully laid stone course that brings these people of the past most vividly to life.

The Pyramids are a couple of hours' drive away from Mexico City, but they're well worth the journey. Looking for a Truly Wonderful hotel in the capital? Check out this one!

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The Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan is a series of six structures all built atop each other until about 350 AD. A burial vault inside, found only in 2004, contained the ancient remains of 12 people, ten of them decapitated and with their hands bound behind their backs. Photo by Nick Bonetti / Alamy

Nick Bonetti

Nick Bonetti

Agency
Alamy

The Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan is a series of six structures all built atop each other until about 350 AD. A burial vault inside, found only in 2004, contained the ancient remains of 12 people, ten of them decapitated and with their hands bound behind their backs.

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