Exploring the Enigmatic Pyramids of Mexico City

Great architecture amazes us because it is visually appealing and helps us resonate with its past glory. These mysterious structures make architecture lovers and explorers travel thousands of miles to take a view. The story behind these heritage sites also makes everyone soaked in the splendor of what is left today.

Ancient structures are always intriguing. Studying them and discovering more about these impressive structures has been going on for ages. So far, there are so many structures that have been discovered.

These buildings still stimulate our minds, drifting away from our thoughts to ancient times. The pyramids happen to be one of the most iconic throughout human history.

How did they evolve, and what was their purpose? Read on to know more.

Explore The Facts about Pyramids

A pyramid, a word derived from the Greek word pyramid, has triangular outer surfaces that converge to a single step at the top. Thus, the shape roughly looks like a pyramid in the geometric sense.

Almost every early culture and civilization has left behind the legacy of towering pyramids. The Mesopotamian, Mayan, Egyptian, and China have pyramids dedicated to their culture.

Although the first thought that comes to our mind upon hearing the word pyramid is that of the pyramids of Egypt, they are not the only ones.

There are thousands of pyramids all over the globe. Egypt has more than 100, double that in Sudan, dozens in China and the Middle East, and in America, more than what the rest of the world has combined.

The early Egyptians first built pyramids in the 27th century B.C. The pharaoh Sneferu built three pyramids during his 45-year reign. His son Khufu built the famous Great Pyramid in Gaza, one of the World’s Seven Wonders. It was considered one of the tallest artificial structures on the Earth for nearly 4,000 years.

leonardo ramos CJ4mbwSK3EY unsplash scaled
Pyramid of Giza, Egypt Photo by Leonardo Ramos on Unsplash. Copyright 2018

Latin Americans built similar pyramids to those of the early Egyptians, but they were built with no knowledge of each other. The pyramids of Sudan were taller and narrower than Egypt’s and were built during 700 B.C.

There were many uses for which pyramids were built. These majestic structures are masterpieces of engineering and incredible archaeological sites.

They were places for worship, tombs for kings, sites for sacrifice, and astronomical tools.

The pyramids are built with less weight on the top and more on the bottom to ensure they survive any climate and stay intact for ages. The oldest pyramid on Earth is the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt.

This is said to be a 4700-year-old step pyramid built during the 27th century BC. It remains a mystery even today because the knowledge of how they were constructed has been lost to history.

Now let us explore and find out more about Mexico City Pyramids

1. Mexico City Pyramids

Mexico City is well known for its vibrancy, exotic food, and amazing people. The city boasts mighty mountains, vast deserts, dense jungles, and more.

Long back, several civilizations ruled over Mexico City even before the first Spanish ships were spotted in the Atlantic Ocean. The splendor of these cultures can be seen through the various unique relics left behind.

The pre-Columbian cultures like Aztecs, Mixtecs, Maya, Toltecs, Olmecs, and Zapotecs are some of them who created impressive structures. These civilizations had a specific style, even though the materials used were commonly clay, stone, and mortar.

The most significant of these pyramids of Mexico City was built roughly between 900 B.C.E to about 1000 C.E. Mexico has two of the world’s most giant pyramids that pay tribute to their planetary and animal Gods.

Most of these monoliths have been featured in movies and visited by famous icons like Indiana Jones. These fascinating Mexico City Pyramids ooze with architectural brilliance, representing a different era.

Each of these Mexico City pyramids weaves a different story and is a masterpiece.

2. Teotihuacan: A Ancient City in Mexico, Famous for Pyramids 

One of pre-Columbian Mexico’s finest archaeological sites is Teotihuacan. Home to nearly 25000 people, it was one of the largest cities in America, built between the 1st and 7th century A.D.

A complex ceremonial and civic center was built at the heart of the ancient city of the Teotihuacan Valley, which was replete with dramatic pyramids and ornate stone palaces. Today, this center is conserved as the Zona Arqueologica de Teotihuacan or The Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone.

Teotihuacan is located about 40km northeast of Mexico City. The Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone is in San Juan Teotihuacan, the federal state of Mexico (Central Mexico).

Mystery still surrounds the ancient Teotihuacanos who built and lived in this city. They are believed to be a robust society with a vast influence across several Mesoamerican civilizations.

Archaeologists feel this city would have been a significant urban center home to various ethnic and linguistic groups. A major fire accident in the 7th century forced many people to abandon this city.

Later, during their rule, the legendary Aztecs believed that gods created this site and gave this ruined city the name Teotihuacan, which meant the place where gods were born in the local Nahuatl language.

Mexico City Pyramids
Teotihuacan Photo by Alejandro Morelos on Unsplash. Copyright 2019

From the 19th century, archaeologists and antiquarians began exploring this ancient city and found out more about the fascinating history of this unique archaeological site.

Teotihuacan is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Mexico City Pyramids

Let us look at famous pyramids on world heritage sites to make your next trip to Mexico City more interesting!

3.1. Pyramid Of the Sun – Teotihuacan Pyramids

A large pyramid in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun, was built during 100 C.E. and is said to be one of the most significant structures in the Western Hemisphere. The city of Teotihuacan is an architectural wonder and is filled with elaborate structures and colossal step pyramids.

The most attractive of this archaeological site is the 240-foot Pyramid of the Sun located along Central Avenue. This sun pyramid consists of 5 layers and is mainly built from the coarse red volcanic rock of the region (hewed Tezontle).

About 248 uneven steps are on the sun pyramid’s west side, leading to the structure’s top.

Not much is known about who built Teotihuacan and the purpose behind building this archaeological site. It is believed that the pyramid revealed a cloverleaf-shaped set of chambers deep inside the sun pyramid that could have been home to many fire and water rituals.

The Pyramid Of The Sun Is Still Revealing Its Ancient Secrets..

A trip to ancient Mexico will be incomplete if you are not visiting Teotihuacan and climbing this world-renowned archaeological site of the Sun Pyramid.

3.2. Pyramid Of the Moon – Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan Pyramids, located in Mexico City, are said to be known as the City of Gods and were founded around the time of Christ as one of the most significant places in Mesoamerica.

The city’s name comes from the Aztecs who visited here centuries after this city was abandoned.

The Pyramid of the Moon is said to be the third-largest pyramid in the world at a height of 142 feet. It was dedicated to the Great Goddess and was built about 200-450 A.D.

The moon pyramid consists of several massive layers of pyramids that lead to the top. The design follows the contours of the Cerro Gordo Mountain located nearby. This moon pyramid is an important place for ritual sacrifice and a religious center.

Climbing the Pyramid of the Moon will take you to nearly the height of the Pyramid of the Sun, but it is not of the same size.

3.3. El Castillo – Chichen Itza 

Chichen Itza pyramid, nicknamed El Castillo or feathered serpent pyramid, is a 98-foot tall, spectacular Mayan temple believed to have been built in 1000 CE.

This grand structure is said to have been dedicated as a place of worship to Maya, the feathered serpent God Kukulkan, and has remarkable astronomical importance.

This vast structure is located near the small town of Piste and is said to have been constructed from limestone. Each of the Mexico City Pyramids has 91 steps, and all these, combined with the shared step at the top, make a total of about 365 steps, each representing one day of the year.

Mexico City Pyramids
El Castillo – Chichen Itza Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash. Copyright 2016

One of the enthralling features of this pyramid is that during spring and autumn equinoxes, a series of lights and shadows appear on the north side of the staircase. These shadows look like the shape of a moving snake or feathered serpent.

It is believed that in 2015, it was found that this famous pyramid is sitting atop a 20m deep sinkhole that is putting this structure at significant risk of collapsing.

3.4. Pyramid Of the Magician – Uxmal

One of the architectural brilliance of the Mayan civilization was that this settlement was abandoned during the 10th century at the beginning of the Toltec influence and lay vacant until the arrival of the Spanish.

The name Pyramid of the Magician is derived from an old story, Leyenda del Enano de Uxmal or The Legend of the Uxmal’s Dwarf. The story states that the dwarf, a magician God named Itzamna, built the temple overnight with the help of his witch mother.

Even though the first construction of this temple started in 600 A.D., the final additions were completed around 1000 A.D.; thus, the name Uxmal means thrice built.

The Pyramid of the Magician is one of the few structures reflecting many architectural styles of Mayan use and showing astronomical knowledge.

Mexico City Pyramids
Pyramid of the Magician Photo by Viviana Ceballos from Pexels. Copyright 2020

It is aligned with the planet Venus, with its staircase perfectly with the sun’s setting rays on the summer solstice.

This Mexico City Pyramid is over 30m tall. Some of them feel that this complex held a sacred or secret school and is said to have been used on holy days for rituals.

3.5. Pyramid Of the Niches – El Tajin

The Pyramid of the Niches was built between 1000 A.D and 1150 A.D. It stands at a height of 20m, having four sides and seven terraces. As time progressed and due to the weather, one of the terraces was destroyed.

The structure got its name because of the 365 niches representing 365 days of the year. One specific niche house is 18 inches, representing the 18 months of the Mesoamerican calendar.

This pyramid is rich in numerological symbols found on many other Mexico City Pyramids. El Tajin is said to have been one of the flourishing centers between the fall of Teotihuacan and the Aztecs’ rise.

During the civilization’s fall, the locals are said to have maintained this particular temple as it had great significance for them regarding the solar year and ancient religious reinforcements.

Even though not much is known about its inhabitants, scholars believe that the descendants of Totonac and Huastec still reside in this area.

3.6. Avenue of The Dead or Avenida De Los Muertos

If you want to witness and appreciate the greatness of the once admirable pre-Hispanic city of the distant past, you should visit Avenida de Los Muertos or the Avenue of the Dead.

This Avenue of the Dead is nearly more than 2km long and 40m wide and stretches across Teotihuacan.

Along the Avenue of the Dead route, which culminates at the Pyramid of the Moon, various small pyramidal structures look like house complexes for the ancient priests.

These structures may have been built upon the ancient pyramids before the city of Teotihuacan was ravaged by fires.

3.7. Nohoch Mul Pyramid

The renowned ruins at Coba are the site of one of the famous giant pyramids of stone causeways and roads of the ancient Mayan world. This city was built around two lagoons at a driving distance from Cancun.

These ancient ruins lie hidden in gorgeous jungle scenery with climbable temples. The structure shows influence from the ancient Teotihuacan architecture, indicating that the inhabitants were in contact with Central Mexico.

There are steep steps leading to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid, which totals about 130 feet. This pyramid is one of the tallest Mexico City Pyramids from the Mayan era lying on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Coba Ruins Mexico

Even though this site is not a favorite spot for city planners, an early morning tour of this pyramid will allow you to experience the natural feel of the ancient Mayan world.

3.8. The Basilica of Guadalupe Shrine

The Basilica is located in La Villa, Mexico. This is said to be one of the most visited Catholic shrines globally, located in the north of Mexico City. It is considered the second visited shrine by the Catholics after Vatican City.

The Old Basilica was sinking just like the many other structures of Mexico. To preserve this architectural beauty, it was decided to construct a new Basilica.

The modern Basilica, the Basilica of Saint Mary of Guadalupe, was built between 1974 to 1976. Constructed in a circular form, it is 100m in diameter. This building allows the cloak to be viewed by those insiders. To ensure that the Basilica would not sink like the old Basilica.

4. Experience the Hot Air Balloon Ride at Teotihuacan

Enjoy the views of the Teotihuacan Pyramids by taking a walk around. But have you ever thought about how it would be to experience hot air balloon rides over it?

It is something of another world’s experience altogether to float above the Mexico City Pyramids during a hot air balloon ride.

Hot Air Balloon over Teotihuacan Pyramids - Amazing views of Mexico!

There are various options to choose from, and the prices are also quite considerable. Some hotels include the price for your hot air balloon rides as well. So, choose accordingly and enjoy your hot air balloon over the Teotihuacan Pyramids.

5. Visiting Teotihuacan Archaeological Site

Visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City using public transport is easy and inexpensive. You can avoid the long queues and opt for fast-track access with a highly praised expert guide. You can even hire a vehicle if you are on a small group tour.

  • The site is open throughout the year every day from 0900 hrs.
  • The standard entrance fee to the site is about 80 Mexican pesos; Mexican citizens who can show proof of their residence are exempted from this on Sundays.
  • This entry fee includes a visit to the Teotihuacan Culture Museum and the on-site Museum of Murals.
  • The tickets allow you to leave and re-enter the site, so if you want to go out for a break or lunch, go ahead, enjoy your meal, and come back.
  • There is a public bus service from Mexico City stop that early morning tour, but remember return bus services stop in the evening.
  • A few small group tours from the city to Teotihuacan and back. One special small group tour starts at 14hrs and reaches you at the site to watch the sunset.
  • The best time to visit the Mexico City pyramids is early morning, and it would take about 3-4 hrs. to explore these beauties, except, of course, if you are a keen fan of archaeology.
  • Mexico City pyramids are primarily outdoors and exposed to the elements of nature. So be prepared for the Mexican sun, as temperatures are usually higher near the sites.
  • Remember to bring a sun hat, sunglasses, sun lotion, comfortable walking shoes, and plenty of water.
  • Check the weather forecast before leaving, as sometimes the Mexico City pyramids experience rainy and windy days.

6. Finally

Even though the pyramids of Egypt seem to get all the attention in the world, the fact is that there are some incredible monoliths of the world in the Mexico City Pyramids that have the mystical atmosphere of a lost city.

Despite being so old and subject to ruins and degradation, these Mesoamerican pyramids remain a major tourist attraction for their architectural, cultural, and historical importance. They remind us of how sophisticated architecture was so many centuries ago, even though resources were barely available.

Archaeologists and researchers continue to unravel the mysteries around these Mexico City Pyramids and what this city depicts about the ancient civilizations and cultures.

After reading through this post, we are sure that you are aware that Mexico City Pyramids are abundantly rich in history and culture and offer a unique and overwhelming experience to all visitors.


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