Visiting Teotihuacan Pyramids
It’s not often you can say you spent your day among pyramids that date back thousands of years — well unless you’re in Mexico. Mexico has dozens of ancient pyramids from pre-hispanic times, including Teotihuacan Pyramids one of Mexico’s most visited tourist sites in all of the country. I’ve had Teotihuacan pyramids on my bucket list pretty much since we decided we were going to RV Mexico and it was every bit as amazing as I expected. We share our experience with you as well as some things you should know before you go to help your plan your trip to Teotihuacan pyramids.
About teotihuacan pyramids
The city Teotihuacan was one of the largest metropolitan areas in Mesoamerica, where at its peak housed around 200,000 people until it’s fall, around 750 AD. The name Teotihuacan is a Nahuatl word meaning “the place where the Gods were created” and was given by the Aztecs who discovered this place 600 years after it was abandoned.
The Aztecs felt this place was extremely important spiritually and named the two largest Pyramids (the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon) to represent an Aztec legend about the creation of life, death, and the balance between. *If you watch our video we share more of that story there.*
The city covered over 12 square miles meaning much of this ancient city is buried under the modern day city of San Juan Teotihuacan.
Some experts believe construction of the city began as early as 400 B.C. although the larger pyramids like Pyramid of the Sun constructed until around 300 A.D. Very little is known about who constructed and build this incredible city, but there are number of theories both to the rise and fall of this ancient civilization including civil unrest, drought, or flooding.
the best way to see the pyramids
Since we are exploring Mexico in our RV and not in a day trip from Mexico city, we had the benefit of staying nearby, parking at Teotihuacan Trailer Park which was about 15 minutes from the entrance to the pyramids. This allowed us to see the pyramids by day, during its normal operating hours of 9 to 5 seven but also by night.
There is a special excursion called “Experiencia Nocturna en Teotihuacán” (night experience) that you must purchase tickets separately for. It’s a bit spendy at $480 pesos per person, but is 100% worth it! The night experience is a two hour tour accompanied by an audio guide that can speak over a dozen languages. The first hour consisted of walking the Avenue of the Dead to both the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon while listening to the history and cultural importance of each structure. Then the second hour consists of a light and sound show where they project a movie onto the pyramids. It was incredibly well done and did a fantastic job illustrating the story of Teotihuacan pyramids, and represent what the pyramids likely looked like in the peak of it’s inhabitance.
If you are staying overnight here, or can squeeze it into your day trip, I highly urge you to purchase tickets for the Night Experience. It is still my favorite experience in all of Mexico and is an incredible way to learn about the culture and history of Teotihuacan.
Getting to the teotihuacan pyramids
Teotihuacan is about 45 minutes to 1 hour outside of Mexico city by taxi or Uber. There is public transit you can take, but since the cost of an Uber is around $15 – $20 US dollars, the easiest and reasonably priced option is to take an Uber.
There are multiple entrances to the pyramids, so you will specifically want to tell your driver where to drop you off. We entered closest to Pyramid of the Sun which is also next to the Museum. If you’re arriving late, or if it’s a weekend. It’s a good idea to go to the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon first because of how crowded it can get. We got there right when it opened (9 am) and within the hour there were dozens of people on the top of the pyramid. By noon there were dozens more.
What to bring to teotihuacan pyramids
The entrance to the park was $70 pesos and it was cash (or pesos) only. If you arrive early make sure have the exact amount as it was too early for them to have change.
The pyramids are open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, then reopen in the evenings Thursday – Saturday for the Night Experience.
This area of Mexico has very temperate climate with little fluctuation in temperature throughout the year. The mornings are cooler (as you can see by Liz’s scarf) but it warms up quickly in the day. My number one tip would be to wear sunscreen or have some sort of sun protection. Dennis got one of the worst sun burns of his life while we were there! Make sure to bring…
- hat or buff
- comfortable shoes
- camera (no professional equipment like a tripod or monopod)
What to expect when visiting the pyramids
This is one of Mexico’s most popular archeological sites, so be ready for a crowd. The earlier you come the better. The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid at the site, and is definitely one of the star attractions.
Pyramid of the sun
The pyramid of the sun is the largest pyramid at Teotihuacan standing at 216 feet or 66 meters tall. Inside of this impressive structure is a cave with a hole at its center, which the Aztecs and likely the original inhabitants believed to be the naval of the earth, or the place from where the earth was born. The Pyramid of the Sun held likely held extreme importance in the culture as it’s positioned so that on a certain day of the year, which typically an equinox, the sun aligns perfectly with the Pyramid.
Walking to the top is no easy feat with over 250 steep steps, it’s a workout. But anyone that is determined, regardless of age or ability can do it if you want to.
Pyramid of the Moon
The Pyramid of the Moon is slightly smaller than the Pyramid of the Sun at around 140 feet or 43 meters. It is believed that this pyramid, although smaller in size held higher importance for religious ceremonies and is the reason the avenue of the dead ends at the Pyramid of the Moon. It is here you can grab incredible shots of the Teotihuacan pyramids.
Avenue of the dead
The avenue of the dead intersects the center of Teotihuacan, creating four distinct quadrants or sectors with the Pyramid of the Moon at the far end. Originally the pyramids and structures that lined this avenue were believed to be tombs, hence the name, although it has now been discovered that uses for the structures extended beyond burial tombs. Walking along the Avenue of the Dead should not be skipped. Along it you can see several remains of murals, including El Palacio de Los Jaguares. In certain areas you can walk onto platforms that extend east and west off the avenue into the living quarters if the city, where they have discovered older pyramids that have been well preserved pyramids because newer civilizations would often build bigger, newer, or more intricate pyramids on top of old ones during new civilization reigns.
The Temple of Quetzalcoatl
The Temple of Quetzalcoatl also known as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent is located in the Citadel and was our favorite pyramid at Teotihuacan. Far inferior in size, this is believed to be one of the older pyramids and has very unique statues and designs. After discovered several bodies at the base of the pyramid, archeoligist believe this temple was used for important ceremonial rituals including sacrifices. It’s a bit of a trek considering it’s at the far end of the Teotihuacan pyramids but is worth the walk.
Visiting the Teotihuacan pyramids is absolutely a must-do activity when visiting Mexico. We are grateful we were able to visit and experience this beautiful site, and for the continued efforts to preserve and educate visitors on the history of this important ancient city.
Liz & Dennis
We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!
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