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Teotihuacan & the Sun & Moon Pyramids

Map of Teotihuacan       Mexico facts & history in brief

The pyramids of San Juan de Teotihuacán are perhaps the most famous ruins in Mexico.
They are about 35 miles north-east of Mexico City and at least half a day is required for a visit.
Teotihuacán actually is the remains of an ancient Maya city, containing well-preserved monumental architecture from about 1st Century. For some 600 years Teotihuacán dominated Central Mexico economically and perhaps politically.
At its height it covered about 23 km2. (9 square miles) with a regular grid of streets, alleys, and apartment-like residential complexes, with a population of about 300,000.
Here was located the most extensive and sumptuous ceremonial centre of central Mexico.
The focal point of the ensemble is the largest and earliest structure, the Sun Pyramid, built up of solid layers over a natural cave and richly adorned with decorated facades
Smaller structures, built, like the large pyramids, on platforms, and usually screened by right-angled colonnades, have ornately carved and painted interior spaces.
The layout seems to have been determined by a solar ritual, for the face of the central pyramid is aligned with the setting midsummer sun and all the other important buildings are related to it axially.
Teotihuacan was the earliest true city in Mesoamerica (Mexico and northern Central America) and was probably built by the Toltecs, who later merged with the Mayans.
The area was deserted and considered cursed when the Aztecs first arrived in the Valley of Mexico.
No one knows for certain why the original inhabitants left.
Dominating the site if the huge Pyramid of the Sun, rising 65.5 metres (215 feet) high from a base of 250m2 (750 sq. feet).
The monument is, actually, several pyramids one built over the other.
The Toltecs marked time in 52-year cycles, and, at the conclusion of each, apparently, a new pyramid was built.
It is supposed that originally a temple to the god of the sun stood on the summit.
A short distance away stands the Pyramid of the Moon.
It is not quite as large and remains partially covered with grass and dirt.
Between these monuments runs what is called the Avenue of the Dead, lined with the remains of lesser temples and shrines.
By about 700, the Maya of the Classic Period reached their peak in population and prosperity.
Throughout the Classic Period, populations grew, and new cities were founded.
Toward the end of the period, as competition for land and other resources increased, rival cities began to fight each other.
Sometimes a growing city would break away from a larger city's control.
In other cases, one city conquered another and captured its ruler.
Defeated rulers and other important prisoners of war were sacrificed in religious ceremonies, and the conquered city probably paid something to the victor.
Throughout the area of Teotihuacan are representations of the Plumed Serpent, Quetzalcoatl.
When Montezuma II became emperor in 1502, the Aztec empire was at the height of its power.
In 1519, the Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortés landed on the east coast of Mexico and marched inland to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan (Today's Mexico City).
He and his troops were joined by many Indians who had been conquered by the Aztec and resented their heavy taxes.
Montezuma II did not oppose the advancing Spaniards, possibly because he thought Cortés represented the god Quetzalcoatl.
According to Aztec legend Quetzalcoatl had sailed across the sea and would return someday.
Cortés entered Tenochtitlan and made Montezuma a prisoner.
In 1520, the Aztec rebelled and drove the Spaniards from the city.
Montezuma died from wounds received in the fighting.
Cortés reorganised his army and began a bloody attack on Tenochtitlan in May 1521.
Forcing the Aztec to surrender.

Hui Chin and I was very pleased that we have visited Mexico, especially Mexico City.
There was a lot of work was going on road and services around town and around our hotel.
Mexico city wasn't the first one, where we have seen this either.
Much the same as usual, we went for a city sightseeing tour.
During our sightseeing tour we were taken to the 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' Basilicas.
Next day we returned for another day to participate in a couple of masses, that we walked in during our explorations.
There are two main Basilicas and many churches and chapels in the complex. You really need most of a day to see everything around here.
We also went to see the Pyramids at Teotihuacan. (The Pyramids of San Juan de Teotihuacán).
The place is about 30-35 kilometres from Mexico City and the drive there was very interesting and entertaining.
We stopped at an 'artisans collective souvenir shop', with interesting demonstrations, stories and souvenirs>
A large number of developments going on outside the city to house the expanding population.
We were told an interesting story about the hills along the our road.
Large numbers of rural people come to Mexico City all the time attracted by jobs and the fast pace of city life.
These poor people build themselves a shack on the side of the hills, which are government property, adding to it as time goes by.
Once they spent five years on the property, it becomes theirs, by Mexican law.
Another exciting day, although an incident at our lunch break did spoiled it for us some.
The lunch break was part of the tour, but we had to pay for it individually.
Hui Chin and I were running low on cash and we did ask the restaurateur before we sat down,if they accept Visa, because Visa isn't very popular, by our experience in Latin America.
Yes, he told us.
When it came to pay, of course, they did not accept Visas or any other credit cards from anybody, we had to borrow the price of our meals, from another couple from our hotel.
Very embarrassing.
I did complain too.
Quiet strongly too.
Wasn't really a fair play.
It wasn't cricket, Mate, If you happen to read this.
We happened to forget the name of the Restaurant.
I would like to name them, to warn others.
I would appreciate if someone could let me know.
(Their excuse was, that business was very slow, and they can't afford the commissions on the credit cards).
Returning to our Mexican experiences, did anybody noticed the Mexicans liking for green.
Thousands of green Volkswagen Beetle Taxis running around the city.
Buses, some bridges are the same green colour.
We spent a couple of days exploring the city on foot.
There was a free, very noisy and colourful concert going on the Plaza front of the Cathedral, one day when we visited.
We returned the next day for another look.
We are looking forward to visit Mexico again soon.

You can click on these photos for an enlargement.

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