9 Most Beautiful Teotihuacan Pyramids and Ruins

Martina Rosado
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Getting There

Mexico

It is hard to imagine that the magnificent Teotihuacan Pyramids of central Mexico were built over two thousand years ago but they were!

The Pyramid of the Sun is the most famous of the ruins at Teotihuacan. It is believed to have a base of 27,000 square meters with a height of approximately 93 meters, and it is the largest pre-Columbian and Mesoamerican pyramid of the New World.

While we don’t have a blueprint for these pyramids, we do know that the platform for the Pyramid of the Sun had a base of 100,000 square meters.

Pyramid of the Moon has its own base which measures about 50,000 square meters. This is a pyramid that one can climb to the top. The view is beautiful but it is very steep and requires some physical abilities.

As you can see in this picture, you get a good view of the surrounding buildings and houses (they are in the center) and on the other side, the tall buildings of the city of Mexico.

The Pyramid of the Feathered Snake is one of the largest of the 37 identified pyramids at Teotihuacan. The pyramid was built during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and then eventually covered with earth and grass to provide a surface for Aztecs to worship their sun god.

Map of Teotihuacán

Teotihuacan is a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city situated in what is now the municipality of the same name in the State of Mexico. The archaeological site is located in the Valley of Mexico, in the center of the urbanized area known as the Asiento, or "seat", of the Mexican League””located north of the city of Mexico and just south of the Mesoamerican capital of the Triple Alliance””of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan. Teotihuacan was one of the largest urban centers in Mesoamerica, with a population estimated at 150, 000-200, 000.

  • There are two pyramids that dominate the city, the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. The name Teotihuacan means "abode of the gods" in the Nahuatl language.

  • Teotihuacan was the fourth most populous city in the pre-Columbian Americas. The ancient Teotihuacan was the causeway between the two parts of the Valley of Mexico, which allowed the movement of people and commerce to the north and south.

Palace of Tepantitla

(Pyramid of the Magician)

­ Teotihuacan is a Mesoamerican civilization that arose in the Valley of Mexico between the fifth and seventh centuries AD. The Aztecs named the city of the sun “Teotihuacan".

­❯The Palace of Tepantitla (Pyramid of the Magician)

­Within the city of Teotihuacan, there are several ruins, the most famous of which are the Pyramid of the Sun, located in the middle of the main plaza, and the Pyramid of the Moon near the southern edge of the city, restored in the 16th century.

The palace on the east side of the main plaza is a vertical building oriented north-south. It rests on an irregular base which slopes eastward. A stairway leads to the level of the second entrance. The pyramid itself has stairs on its east side and a stairway on its west side, and two stairways on the two sides of the entrance. The Pyramid of the Magician is the only palace that has an entrance on all four sides.

Palace of Tetitla & Palace of Atetelco

Tetitla is the most beautiful of all of the Teotihuacan pyramids because of its location in an unspoiled area with greenery covering the pyramid. From a distance, it looks like a real hill. Access to Tetitla is through a narrow tunnel at the edge of the hill that opens up into a vast courtyard.

The Palace of Tetitla has two relatively low, rectangular, stepped pyramids covering large areas.

The palace had many rooms that were open to visitors. Today, these are partially buried under the hill, making the structures difficult to see. There are many rooms, ramps, galleries and stairs that were uncovered in excavations.

The Palace of Tetitla has better preserved mural-paintings and is the only pyramid with carved staircases that were probably used to gather water and to transport goods down into the city.

Atetelco is the second of the Teotihuacan pyramids and was probably used as a religious and ceremonial center. From a distance, Atetelco looks like a mountain that has been carved by water.

Like Tetitla, the height of the pyramid is similar to that of a real hill. It is about the same size as Tetitla, but is not nearly as well-preserved.

In addition to the main pyramid, there is a building, low stone walls, access ramps and staircases that you can access.

Museo Teotihuacan

Palace of the Jaguars

The city of Teotihuacan, located in Mexico, is known for housing the tallest, largest, and most spectacular architecture in the world.

The most well-known Teotihuacan landmark is the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, which are located 12 kilometers away from one another. The city consists of two main groups of pyramids: the Pyramids of the Sun and the Pyramids of the Moon, which are located 500 meters apart.

The Great Pyramid of the Moon, located at the north, is the biggest from a height perspective with a height of 123 meters. The Great Pyramid of the Sun is located at the south with a height of 105 meters.

The structure of both pyramids is similar as they are composed of five levels, each of which are divided in half for each layer of the pyramid.

Both pyramids are aligned to the cardinal points, and run parallel to one another.

The Pyramids of the Moon

The first group of pyramids that you will encounter while visiting the ruins of Teotihuacan are the pyramids of the moon.

The main features of the pyramids of the moon are:

The Tomb of Heaven: the tomb is shaped like a mountain from the ground level. It is called that because it looks like if you were to look up from the mountain, the top would correspond with the opening of the tomb.

Palace of Quetzalpapalotl

(Snake Pyramid)

Palace of Quetzalpapalotl (Snake Pyramid)

The Snake Pyramid is also known as the Pyramid of the Wind (Ventanequilla), which could refer to the substance used in its construction or to the legend that the pyramid was built using the wind as an assistance. This pyramid is one of the most impressive to have been built at Teotihuacan. Twin staircases ascend to the summit of this massive structure, which is covered with stucco and painted in different colors.

The symbol of this pyramid is the snake, which was the symbol of the Moon deity at Teotihuacan. The stairs around the pyramid are decorated with the heads of snakes and the steps also have the heads of snakes.

In the same area as the pyramid is the Temple of the Moon (Templo del Menhir). This temple originally had four legs, but only the two uppermost remain intact. The upper northern leg is building on a platform on top of the imposing temple and its platform is decorated with the heads of snakes that circle the base of the lower legs.

This temple has a distinctive step design and some circular protrusions on the platform. The head of the snake on the platform, which is well preserved, is also interesting because it was found separately and included in the platform so that it could serve as a heading marker.

Temple of Quetzalcoatl

(Templo de Quetzalcálbatl):

In Ancient Teotihuacan, this is one of the most preserved sites, with the highest degree of preservation. It existed during the Classic period, between 100 BC and 450 AD. It is said that it was built in honor of Quetzalcálbatl, the largest of the pre-Columbian feathered serpents. Legend has it that the temple was built in three stages, as the serpent grew.

It is crowned in its central tower, which was its first stage. The temple is covered with an imaginary shell that is made of lava, sandstone, and limestone. Its constructions of red volcanic stone are adorned with Pre-Columbian "pillars", or carved stones, in a type of geometric ornament never seen in other Mesoamerican architecture. It is considered a masterpiece of Teotihuacan.

The pyramid for Quetzalcálbatl was partially built using the same technique as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, but the pyramid is smaller. Its construction was started before the Great Temple. The complex is composed of the Pyramid of Quetzalcálbatl, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, and the intihuatana.

Avenue of the Dead

Pyramid of the Moon

(Temple of Quetzalcoatl)

This is the only pyramid still partially standing and for this reason it is one of the most visited of the amazing ancient structures of Teotihuacan.

Its unusual shape and its location over the largest temple of Teotihuacan intrigues many visitors, and this is one of the reasons to visit this archaeological site, whose ruins have some of the best preserved murals of ancient Mesoamerica.

The Pyramid of the Moon is also known as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and has its name due to the figure of this bird perched on top of the platform that defines the top of the pyramid.

The Temple of Quetzalcoatl is a circular platform which reaches 21 meters high and is visited from a series of stairs with various levels.

This temple rises at a height of 91 meters over the central precinct of the city, one of the most important of Teotihuacan.

The pyramid is oriented west and was built in stages, since the platform is one of the oldest structures and the platforms which surround the temple are secondary constructions.

It probably served as an observation point for the religious rituals and the festivities related to the cult of the sun, since it rises over the most important temple of Teotihuacan.

Pyramid of the Sun

This is one of the largest pyramids in Teotihuacan. Many people come from other countries to visit it.
The Pyramid is located in Teotihuacan, an ancient city that is located in the Valley of Mexico at the eastern side of Mexico City.The Pyramid of the Sun was built on what had been the most sacred spot within Teotihuacan, the Place of the Feathered Serpent, a site that had been the religious center of the Teotihuacanos in 200 BC. It is believed that the pyramid was first built as an agricultural temple after the major construction of the Ciudadela and that it was turned into a temple of the Sun during the temple-pyramid complex's expansion, which occurred during the Late Classic period (400 AD – 650 AD).

✓ Better Architecture

The Pyramid is one of the oldest pyramids in Mexico and the first one ever to be built at Teotihuacan. It was built in two high stages. It is 500m long, so it marks one of the biggest altitudes in Teotihuacan and in Mesoamerica.

It uses stone, clay, and wood to build it. The temple was used for worship and commerce, because it was located at the center of the metropolis.
It is also the only pyramid that shows the use of the Mesoamerican ball game on its sides.