Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun
The Teotihuacan ruins just north-east of Mexico City have two special attractions –the Le Sol (Sun) and La Luna (moon) pyramids. In truth both are incredible sights, but there are plenty of other interesting sites here particularly some well preserved wall paintings. The Sun pyramid is the 3rd
largest in the world and today stands 66m tall but the best thing is that and you can climb to the top. It’s nothing like as steep as the Mayan pyramids so the climb is easy enough and the view over the rest of the site is tremendous. You can only climb about half-way up the Moon pyramid, but as this is at the end of the main road, and built on higher ground it is both more imposing and the best place from which to view the Pyramid of the Sun.
History and cultures here can become a little confusing. Most people think of the Aztecs as the native rulers of Mexico as this was the civilisation that the Spanish conquered in the 16th
Century, however they only became the dominant culture in central Mexico in the 14th
Century. The main Teotihuacan ruins date from about 200AD (much earlier than the Aztecs).
Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Moon
At its peak in about 500AD the city was estimated to have had a population of about 125,000 making it the 6th
largest city in the world at that time. For some reason the city was sacked and then completely abandoned in the 7th
Century. The Mayan civilisation is a slightly different era again, but mainly ruled the regions to the south and east of here.
As well as a day out at the pyramids we take a day to see the old colonial Mexico City. The old town is reasonably compact and though we don’t try to see too much, many of the sights listed here are museums which I can happily skip. The area around the Zocalo is our focus, particularly the Temple Mayor (the central and most important Aztec temple) which was destroyed by the Spanish and only rediscovered in the 1970's when engineers were laying some new services. Though it's hard to visualise the main temple now the excavations have turned up some fascinating objects and the onsite museum is one of the best I can recall visiting with some glorious exhibits brilliantly displayed.
The Zocalo square is impressive in itself –
it is one of the largest city squares anywhere in the world with a huge Mexican flag flying at the centre. The cathedral fronts the square and had a scale – if not the beauty – befitting a capital city. Major buildings here face some significant construction challenges. As this area was historically a lake much of the ground here is not very stable. In addition the region is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity. You soon notice that many of the colonial buildings, such as the cathedral, are not straight. I’m amazed they have stood this long.
Other than the Temple Mayor the one museum we choose to visit is the Diego Rivera museum next to the Alameda Central park. This displays one of his most famous murals “ Dream of a Sunday afternoon in Almeida Central Park" painted in 1947.
Mexico City has been a far more enjoyable place to visit than I had expected. The city isn’t as difficult to navigate if you are careful and choose to stay in the right area. The efficient and cheap metro makes a lot of difference. The people are friendly and the city isn’t at all scary despite
stories that warn you to be very careful.
Though we have only just scratched the surface of what Mexico City has to offer I like it and will hopefully come again.
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