The Mexico City Pyramids of Teotihuacan are one of the most enduring legacies of Pre-Columbian history that can be found anywhere in the Americas. This enormous complex is found on the outskirts of modern-day Mexico City and is the site of some of the largest freestanding pyramids that have ever been discovered.
The incredible sight of the Mexico City Pyramids is one that any tourist to Mexico cannot miss, as Teotihuacan is a historical legacy that has for thousands of years stood on these lands.
Teotihuacan was known as the ‘City of the Gods’ and it predates even the Aztec cultures that were here when the Spanish first arrived. This was once the largest city in the Americas.
Even though only the pyramids, temples and ruins now remain, visiting Teotihuacan it’s still easy to be amazed by the scale of this endeavor, which some believe dates back as far as the first century AD.
Traveling to the pyramids is one of the best trips to make when visiting Mexico City, so to help you out, we’ve put together this guide on visiting the Teotihuacan Pyramids. From how to get there, to the best time to visit, we’ve got it covered here. It’s a trip that you won’t want to miss out on!
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide)
A Brief History of the Teotihuacan Pyramids
Before the Spanish arrived in Mexico, before Christopher Columbus had even set sight on these shores, and long before the Aztecs had built their own temples and raised their capital on the site that later became Mexico City, The Teotihuacan Pyramids were already long abandoned and left to the ravages of the jungle.
These Mexico City pyramids are one of the finest lasting examples of Meso-American culture, architecture, and history to be found anywhere on the continent.
At the height of its power, in the early centuries of the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was home to hundreds of thousands of people. But it was lost to time, the streets emptied and the city became deserted some time in the 7th century AD.
There is much debate over the reasons why or how, but by the time the Aztecs came to power, the city was already the stuff of legends.
The Aztecs made pilgrimages to the temples from Mexico City and then the Spanish made the first excavations in the late 17th century. Since then, more archaeological discoveries are made every year.
The site’s importance is recognized by its listing on the UNESCO World Heritage register and the fact that this is one of the most visited places in Mexico.
How to Travel to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan
The huge site of Teotihuacan is commonly known these days as the Mexico City Pyramids, because of its incredibly close proximity to the Mexican capital.
It also means that it’s relatively easy to travel to and is generally enjoyed as a day trip by many tourists to the city. The entrance is found to the north of Mexico City, a distance of just 50 kilometers, which can take as little as 45 minutes if traveling by car, in quiet traffic, along the fast toll road.
Private transport is by far the easiest way to reach the Mexico City Pyramids and in Mexico City, it’s easy to either rent a car or to arrange transport in a taxi. There are many companies offering tours of the pyramids too.
Although large bus tours are not for everyone, they do take out the hassle of arranging the trip and provide you with a guide. Tour prices vary but expect to pay at least USD 40 per person for a decent, reputable company.
It is possible though, to reach the pyramids by public transport. There are buses leaving every 20 minutes for the pyramid entrance, and they depart from the northern bus terminal – Terminal del Norte.
These are easy to catch and are generally set up for tourists anyway. The bus takes roughly one hour and costs 52 Pesos each way.
Viator offers 30 guided tours of Teotihuacan.
How to Get Around the Mexico City Pyramids
Teotihuacan is an absolutely huge complex. One of the reasons it’s so impressive is because the scale of the site is gigantic. It’s hard to comprehend how a civilization thousands of years ago could have even begun to construct such a place.
The huge scale of Teotihuacan though means that it can be quite tricky to travel around and to see all the best spots in a day.
Entrance to the complex costs 70 Pesos per person, which includes access to the museum. If you are traveling independently, you will find many tour guides waiting at the entrance too, and it’s possible to hire a local for the day to show you around.
Their prices are very much negotiable but expect to pay a minimum of 500 Pesos for their services.
If you have your own car, you are allowed to drive around the edge of the site, on the ring road, which will make travel between the main historic sights easier.
If you arrive by bus, however, you are going to have to walk, so be prepared with water and a hat to cope with a day in the sun. You will be doing a lot of walking, but it will be completely worth it!
Our top recommended tours of Teotihuacan:
- Teotihuacan Day-Trip & Dinner with the Locals
- Small-Group Teotihuacan Pyramids from Mexico City
- Teotihuacán Full Day from Mexico City
- Full-Day Basilica of Guadalupe and Teotihuacan Archaeological Site Tour from Mexico City
- Teotihuacan Archaeology Tour
Exploring The Teotihuacan Pyramids
So, where do you start when you walk through the entrance to the Teotihuacan Pyramids and are faced with the glorious sight of this ancient city arrayed ahead of you across the landscape?
There are a few major temples and museums to visit within the vast complex and here are the ones that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on seeing.
The Avenue of the Dead
The Avenue of the Dead is the huge main road that connects the major temples. It was once the city’s primary thoroughfare, providing a road through the mass of buildings and houses that would have been here.
Today, it’s a road that helps the many tourists to guide their way through the complex, but the sheer scale of the avenue itself is enough to have you in awe. The avenue itself runs for 4 kilometers in length and will give you a real sense of scale once you start treading on its ancient stones.
The Pyramid of the Sun
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest of the pyramids to be found at Teotihuacan. If you have ever seen a picture of Teotihuacan, then the chances are it will include this pyramid.
It’s the most well known and photographed, and of course, also the busiest. The pyramid dates back to the 2nd century BC and stands 65 meters tall and over 200 meters wide.
It’s possible to walk the many stone steps to the summit for incredible views over the rest of the area. This is the third largest stone pyramid in the world and probably one of the best examples of the engineering abilities of Pre-Columbian civilizations to have been found anywhere in the Americas.
The Pyramid of the Moon
The Pyramid of the Moon is the second largest of the many temples and pyramids that are found at Teotihuacan. It’s thought to date back to around 200 AD, and it’s impressive size and shape almost equals that of the Pyramid of the Sun.
The Pyramid of the Moon is found at the far end of the Avenue of the Dead.
Iy’s a bit of a walk, but if you want pictures of the whole complex which include the Pyramid of the Sun, it’s best to walk all the way to the top of the Pyramid of the Moon for those epic views,
The Temple of the Feathered Serpent
The Temple of the Feathered Serpent is the third largest pyramid to be found at Teotihuacan. It’s also known as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and it’s found within the walls of a citadel, rather than out in the open like the other pyramids.
Although more ruined and crumbling than its larger neighbors, The Temple of the Feathered Serpent has one of the most interesting histories. In the 1980’s, during excavations here, a mass grave was found dating back to around 150 BC.
It’s thought that these were the unfortunate victims of human sacrifice.
The main museum inside the archaeological site is the best place to learn more about the site and its long history. There are many artifacts and exhibits from the many excavations that have taken place here. Entrance is included in the ticket price too!
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Food and Drink
Walking around in the open sun all day, you will become tired, thirsty and hungry! Take plenty of water with you and even snacks and sandwiches to keep you nourished.
There are also a few restaurants around the perimeter of the complex, all of which get very busy. It’s possible to leave and re-enter on the same ticket so don’t be afraid to jump out for a bite to eat around the edge if you get hungry.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide)
Best Time to Visit the Pyramids
The Teotihuacan Pyramids are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mexico. Expect it to be busy whenever you visit. Leaving early though will help you to avoid the worst of the crowds and the worst of the midday heat.
The weekends too can be incredibly busy, especially Sunday afternoons, so if you can, try to head their midweek.
For those who don’t know us this is my (David) mother and father, they inspired travel in me at a young age. If it was not for them I would not be the worldly person I am today. They have visited the Pyramid of Teotihuacan site more times than I can count on my hands with their first visit being in the 1980’s.
No matter how many times they visit it’s as magical as their first. Mexico City was my first international city and the Teotihuacan site was the first archaeological site I experienced when I was a child.
It holds a special place in my heart and it will always be one of my favorite places in the world. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for everything.
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