A step back in history

Vanished civilizations are so fascinating. Not only do they have these fantabulous temples and monuments to show, today's visitors are also confronted with this deep, nagging question as to how and why an entire population disappeared. From the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the spectacularly located Macchu Picchu in Peru, I'm fortunate once again to visit another mysterious beauty called Teotihuacán, Mexico's most visited archaeological site.

Mexico City's bus terminal lobby

While there are numerous bus tours from Mexico City, we decided to visit the ruins on our own. To get there, Neil, Clint and I took the subway to the Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte, a gargantuan bus terminal serving trips going up north (even all the way to USA). At the far end of the concourse is Gate 8 where a booth sells tickets for buses going hourly to Teotihuacán. Fare is 35 pesos one way and travel time is about an hour.

Houses on the hills

On the way, we passed by the suburbs and saw how Mexico City's population is literally bursting at the seams. There were these hills completely covered with unsightly, boxy concrete houses. We couldn't even imagine how those without cars go up and down the slopes - if there were roads at all. With the city vulnerable to earthquakes, these structures on the hills look like ticking time bombs. Ruins of the future I hope not!

Looking at the Pyramid of the Sun across La Ciudadela
Temple of Quetzalcoatl

An hour later, the bus driver stopped close to a gate and yelled "piramides". Or pyramids, duh! We got out and walked to the gate where an agent collected 51 pesos as entrance fees. Unlike some other ruins I've visited, there's no fee to take pictures and unlike the Mayan pyramid of Chichen Itza, everyone's free to go up and down the steps for as long as their knees will allow them to.

Viewing the serpent heads at the Temple of Quetzalcoatl

From the gate, the hulking mass of the Pyramid of the Sun is already beckoning us. The tiny dots we see are actual people at the summit which means visiting the ruins entails a whole lot of walking and climbing. And walk and climb we did - my friends came prepared wearing the right footwear anyway. It's almost noon time and while we were thankful for the bright, sunny weather, we were also at the mercy of SPF 70 sunblock.

A merry mix of vendors and tourists at the Avenue of the Dead

Enlisted in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Teotihuacán's most popular is the Pyramid of the Sun, considered  the world's 3rd biggest pyramid after Cholula (Mexico) and Cheops (Egypt). While everyone wants to go up the summit, there's pretty much more in Teotihuacán "where gods were created" - at least that's what the name so suggests.

A busy day at the Pyramid of the Sun

There are also the ruins of the Pyramid of the Moon, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl ( or Temple of the Feathered Serpent), La Ciudadela, the Avenue of the Dead and some more ruins within eyesight. There were an estimated 150,000 inhabitants in an area covering over 36 km2, making it the largest in pre-Columbian America. What we're visiting - the ceremonial center - is a mere 10% of the old city. How Teotihuacán was abandoned - just like Angkor Wat and Macchu Picchu - is what's puzzling.

The Pyramid of the Moon as seen from the Pyramid of the Sun
Who says only virgins are sacrificed?

What's clear for sure is that a good deal of restoration has been done, just like an old lady getting a face lift from Dr. Calayan. It's a work in progress. Archaeologists will keep on digging. More questions need to be answered. Meanwhile, we joined the throngs in a state of pyramid-mania, sacrificing our knees and our skin to the full wrath of a searing sun, up there in the Pyramid of the Sun.


  1. i wouldn't mind soaking my dark skin under the scorching sun just to trek and see those mexican pyramids!

    mayroon talagang temple of the moon other than temple of the sun? amazing! where's temple of the stars? *kidding*

    and yes, your caption on the last photo tells a thousand tales! LOL!

  2. i don't know if ever i would set foot in mexico but your post and also that of gay of pinay travel junkie made me feel that i was traveling with you. great posts everytime.

  3. Wow, your visit looks way crowded than when I visited it in January 2011. There's a lot of people in your shots! We had the whole pyramid to ourselves, but then again, we went really early.

    And I like your last pose. That, and the caption, reminded me of an old Sprite commercial. Magpakatotoo ka! :P

  4. ive got some SPF 100, bigay ko nalang sayo. tamad ako maglagay nyan eh. =)

    oh my, hope you have spare time to meet some of the bloggers .. ^_^ sige na!

  5. I want to see that too. You know I have issues with letting all the masses go inside these ruins. My opinion only is the structure is best preserved with very little disturbance from the people.

  6. I don't think I can make it to the top of that pyramid as easily as I did when I visited the Teotihuacan in the early 70's. I'll still give it a shot if there is a blonde virgin in a skimpy bikini spread-eagle at the top like in your last photo LOL.

  7. docgelo,
    I think the Aztecs during their time looked up to celestial bodies - and not just virginal ones LOL!

    Thanks. I did read Gay's account but I believe she has already moved on by the time we got there.

    It was pretty crowded given that it was a weekend we were there - a big combination of locals and their families and busloads of tourists!

    Oo nga pala ano, we ought to meet if you guys have time afternoon or evening of 3/19. I'm only staying for a night.

    Photo Cache,
    I'm not sure if there is a threat posed by the big number of visitors, in which case UNESCO might just put pressure on Mexican government to impose such a measure.

    At this stage in your life, I'd like to imagine you as a high priest in full Aztec regalia sacrificing another virgin LOL!


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