During my travels through Mexico, I’ve been fortunate to visit at least six ancient ruin sites, mostly of Mayan origins. The prettiest? Tulum. The most mystical? Coba. The most stunning architecture? Labna.
But my recent visit to Teotihuacan blew me away. It’s about 20 miles north of Mexico City and one of the largest architectural ruin sites in the Western world (and also suspected to once be the largest city as well).
The thing is, no one knows exactly who lived there. It predates the Aztecs and the Mayans, and other groups like the Olmecs and Toltecs. It’s a big, beautiful mystery.
Perhaps most impressive is its sheer size: It’s at least two miles long, and archaeologists think it might be quite bigger. In several places, you can see “layers” of ruins, where the city had actually been built atop an even older city.
All in all, it’s a thrilling day trip from Mexico City, but also exhausting: You walk for miles in blanching heat, and climb many, many stairs as you progress down the city’s main road, the Avenue of the Dead. Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, the world’s third largest pyramid, is, as the NYT recently put it, “a pre-Columbian stair master.”
The one drawback: The government has allowed the site to be infilitrated with men and women hawking trinkets, and they aggressively approach you every few minutes. The only escape is to head up a pyramid. I have never experienced this before at a Mexico ruin site, and I think it should be banned.
The Pyramid of the Sun:
The layered cities: