Teotihuacan

After spending the past few weeks discovering so much about colonial culture, it was time for something else. What could be more fitting than the cultural heritage of the Incan times? The ruins of Teotihuacan are ideally suited for this. The gigantic Piramide del Sol is the second largest pyramid in the world – easily reachable and by chance exactly on our route. Even from the highway on the way there (whose surface layer also presumably comes from Incan times), we could see the enormous pyramids towering out of the landscape, although it isn’t so easy to distinguish them from the very similar surrounding volcano cones.

Teotihuacan consists of two big pyramids, the high Piramide del Sol and the somewhat smaller, but nevertheless more dominant Piramide de Luna. Their terrain extends over several miles and is made up of many, many ruins and streets. The visible part is only a fraction of what used to be there, and, even with modern methods, archeologists still haven’t managed to reproduce an exact portrayal of the city.  In 750 AD, an estimated 180,000 people inhabited the city, but abandoned it a short time later. The large number of inhabitants led to exploitation of the land, and massive deforestation (lots of firewood was needed for the production of cement) destroyed the extensive forests. This resulted in a life-threatening semi-desert. A look at our times becomes very thought-provoking: it is tragic that we are still making the same mistakes and once again suffering from their consequences, just people did 2,000 years ago. It almost seems to be a need for an advanced civilization to deprive itself of its own livelihood – perhaps increasing prosperity makes us forget our dependence on nature.

The sense and purpose of lots of the buildings is no longer known; interestingly, even the Aztecs, who lived in Mexico very close to the time of the fall of the city, knew nothing about the ruins or their builders, but considered the pyramids to be sacred. They are oriented to the position of the sun, and the precision with which the Incas were able to plan and implement the entire complex is amazing. The sophisticated system of water pipes with its tunnels and reservoirs throughout the whole city also points out the high level of development. Probably due to geometrical reasons, even a river was diverted and integrated into the accurate urban setting. Due to various unearthed findings, archeologists assume that both the pyramids, as well as the entire city were once decorated in flamboyant colors and precious stones, thus presenting a magnificent contrast to the barren surroundings.

Centuries long, the ruins slowly became overgrown and integrated into the landscape as small hills. It wasn’t until fairly recently in modern history that large-scale excavations have revealed a lot of buildings once again and that some of them have been gently renovated. During mile-long walks, there is plenty of time to look at the many details and travel back in time to a bustling city.  By the way, if you would like to have a little peace and quiet there, it is best to arrive before 10 a.m. when the tour buses from Mexico City arrive and the place fills up – whereby we also had the feeling here that many more tourists used to flock through the complex. In any case, it was far from overfilled. Now we are looking forward to the ruins in the Yucatan jungle and are well attuned to the Inca experience.

Picture gallery:

Here are some pictures for our family and friends.

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