Archeological zone of Teotihuacan
Imagine a place chosen by the gods, to become the central point of not only the planet, but of the entire universe! Teotihuacan is that place, the “place where men become gods.” Teotihuacan is one of the most important archaeological sites in Mesoamerica.
It was an imposing ceremonial center that was occupied by a culture which influenced many others in many aspects including architecture among other things, although ironically little is known about the people of Teotihuacan. The site is located between San Juan Teotihuacan and San Martin de las Piramides, 48 km north of Mexico City. It is said that the height and splendor of this culture took place between the third and fourth centuries AD.
Currently the site measures 2.5 square km, but at that time it covered about 20 square kilometers. During its golden age, Teothiuacan was inhabited by over 200,000 people, and was a well-organized society with social classes and well-established politics. It was referred to as the “State of Teotihuacan” in a theocratic sense and not an empire. The most important and privileged class was occupied by the priests, and the rest of the population was engaged in various activities such as agriculture and pottery.
The temples were places where the priests lived, and the rest of society lived in adobe and wood houses. It was a polytheistic society, and their main gods were Tlaloc, the god of rain, and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god, or the creator. The decline of Teotihuacan is not very clear. It apparently took place between 650 and 750, and is thought to have occurred due to an imbalance in the ecosystem, or more simply that they were invaded and destroyed. By the year 800, the city was deserted.
The remains found today demonstrate the importance and greatness of its people. Much is said about the pyramids, but another very important feature in the buildings remains: the painted mural, which shows much of the religious life that they led. At the center of the site, the Calzada de los Muertos is the main walkway which welcomes all visitors. The Citadel and the temples of Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc line the way along to the first pyramid of the Sun. This pyramid is one of the largest in the world, with a base of 225 meters and around 63 meters in height. The more adventurous visitors can climb the long stairway, although it must be said that the stairs are narrow and steep. The Pyramid of the Moon rests at the end of the road, which can also be climbed up.
There exists a so-called “Legend of the pyramids,” which speaks of the area, and reads:
“When all was darkness in the world, the gods gathered in what is now Teotihuacan and decided to bring light in to this world, for which one of them was to be thrown into fire”.
Tecuciztecatl was the one who was appointed to sacrifice himself, and if he is not did, Nanahuatzin was named as his replacement. The two went to pray in different places and then presented themselves for the test. Tecuciztecatl was not brave enough to throw himself in, so then Nanahuatzin immediately launched himself down without hesitation. Upon seeing this, Tecuciztecatl followed, converting themselves into the gods in the Sun and the Moon.” To commemorate this momentous event, the pyramids were built in the places where these two heroes prayed before their sacrifice.
Hence the names, ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ to the greater pyramid, or Tonatiuh Itzacualli, which means “House of the Sun”, and ‘Pyramid of the Moon’ or Meztli Itzacualli, which means “House of the Moon. ” Teotihuacan has a site museum, and along the outskirts of the area, there are places to eat and buy souvenirs. This site is full of magic and energy, so much so that at the beginning of every spring many people attend ceremonies here, organized to recharge them throughout the year.
So get ready for a good walk, with your walking shoes, sunscreen, and something to drink. And if you dare to climb the pyramids, remember it’s not as simple as it appears.