Ancient Pyramids and Ruins of Teotihuacan
I recently took a week-long vacation to Mexico City with my wife. One of the highlights of my trip was seeing the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan. The archeological site is over 2000 year old, and was once the largest city in the Americas. It has two huge Pyramids and over 32 square miles of ruins. I enjoy exploring ancient sites, and Teotihuacan did not disappoint!
From our hotel in downtown Mexico City, we took an uber to the Autobuses del Norte Station. We bought round-trip bus tickets for 92 pesos each and we were soon on our way. The bus stopped on the side of the freeway when we were about half-way there and picked up several more passengers, despite the fact that every seat was filled. Later, the bus stopped once again at a gas station. I was a little frustrated, since I was eager to get to the ruins as soon as possible. Once we got into the surrounding town of San Juan Teotihuacán, the bus stopped again to let several passengers off. Soon after that, we reached our destination, and the driver shepherded us off the bus by yelling at us in Spanish. The entire ride took over an hour and 15 minutes.
Upon exiting the vehicle, we were met with a long line for the ticket booth. There were vendors selling water, cheap jewelry, statues, noise-makers, and more. It took 30-40 minutes to reach the front of the line. After purchasing tickets for 62 pesos each, we were finally inside!
Exploring the Teotihuacan
After a short walk past more vendors, the gigantic Pyramid of the Sun was directly in front of us. I hurried towards its base, eager to climb it, but was met with another line. I quickly realized that the pyramid was PACKED with people, and many more were wrapped around the perimeter waiting for their turn. My wife and I decided that we had spent enough time waiting, and decided to explore the rest of the site instead.
Heading south of the Pyramid, I was relieved to finally find open space and miles of ruins to explore. It was incredible to see remains of the ancient city far out into the distance, and we ended up walking all the way to the end! I traversed through ruins made of stone, in awe at how this ancient civilization was able to design intricate layouts of hallways, stairs, and rooms.
At the far south-end of the site is another open space scattered with more pyramids. I climbed the pyramid in the center (most of the others in this area are off-limits) and found another pyramid directly behind it, which seemed to be the most well-preserved. Built into it’s sides are 3-dimensional sculptures of animal faces and intricate carvings. It was incredible.
At the northern end of Teotihuacan is The Pyramid of the Moon, which is the second largest pyramid. We slowly walked there, passing many more smaller pyramid structures that line the avenue. Although we were tired, we climbed the Pyramid of the Moon, and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the entire site.
After hours of exploring Teotihuacan, I was in need of a good meal. La Gruta was highly recommended by others online. It is a nearby restaurant that happens to be inside of a real cave!
To get there, we took the exit behind the Pyramid of the Sun, opposite from where we originally entered. It is located across the street and down a long driveway. We were greeted by a hostess outside of the cave who informed us that the wait would be approximately an hour and a half. My wife and I were starving, but decided to wait it out. I got a beer from the small bar in the outdoor waiting area and took a seat.
It was worth the wait. Eating inside of a cave is pretty cool, and the food at La Gruta was some of the best I had on my trip! The staff was also incredibly friendly.
After finishing our dinner and taking some photos inside the cave, we realized that it was already dark outside. The Teotihuacan site had closed while we were waiting to be seated, so we couldn’t walk back through the site to the opposite entrance where the buses stop. We tried to call an uber, but we had poor reception all day and couldn’t manage to connect with a driver. Eventually, we got the assistance of an English speaking hostess who called a taxi for us.
Minutes later, a beat up old taxi picked us up and drove us down a dark bumpy road which eventually led to the highway. 20 minutes later, we were at a small bus stop in the town of San Juan Teotihuacán. Soon after, a large bus arrived heading back to Mexico City. I enjoyed the ride back, exhausted, but well-fed and content.
Tips for Visitors
I recommend Teotihuacan to anyone visiting Mexico City. It is astounding to see the impressive structures which were built over 2000 years ago. You have to see it to believe it! Here are some tips to anyone planning a visit:
- Get there early to avoid the crowds that I experienced. Maybe even consider ubering there to avoid the bus ride which seemed to take forever.
- While you are in Mexico City, also check out the Museum of Anthropology in Chapultapec Park for more Teotihuacan ruins, artifacts, and information.