The Mysterious Ancient City of Teotihuacan Mexico

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Ancient city of Teothhuacan in Mexico.Visit One of Mexico’s Grandest Archaeological Sites

Teotihuacan Mexico is part of our Caravan Mexico Ancient Civilizations Tour and ideal for anyone who longs to channel their inner Indiana Jones.

The magnificent ruins of Mexico’s most impressive archeological site are a bucket list must if you are planning a trip to Mexico City.

This pre-Aztec ancient city is located just 30 miles (50 km) northeast of the country’s capital.

At its peak, the city of Teotihuacan housed a population of roughly 125,000 – 200,000 people (similar in size to Salt Lake City, Utah). This made Teotihuacan Mexico one of the largest ancient cities in the world at that time.

Although this historical city now boasts some of the most impressive ancient temples in Mexico, that’s not what makes this city so alluring.

The longstanding draw is its mysterious origins. To this day, no one truly knows who founded the city or what happened to them. In fact, there is a mix of ancient cultures here in Mesoamerica including Mayan, Mixtec, and Zapotec.

Learn what we know about the city of Teotihuacan and what you should expect on your next visit.

The Origins of Teotihuacan Mexico

While the ancient city of Teotihuacan appears to contain traces of several cultures like the Maya, Mixtec, and Zapotec, it is ultimately unknown who built the ancient city.

Stone serpent structure at ancient Teotihuacan in Mexico.Several theories attempt to explain this mystery, but there is still no academic consensus.

Whoever the mysterious architects may have been, it appears that Teotihuacan Mexico was founded around 400 BC. The largest structures weren’t completed until about 300 AD.

It is believed that the city peaked around 100 years later, with a population of nearly 200,000 people.

Despite its size and influence, the city was eventually abandoned, although archeologists are unsure exactly what happened.

After being mysteriously abandoned for centuries, the Aztecs rediscovered the city in the 1400s, and were so impressed by its magnificence that they named it Teotihuacan, “the place where the gods were created.”

The mystery of Teotihuacan continues to intrigue scholars and visitors around the world.

No matter its ancient origins, Teotihuacan Mexico is an impressive sight to see and was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

What To Expect in These Archeological Ruins

There are many ways to experience the city of Teotihuacan.

Entry tickets can be purchased in advance or as part of a guided tour. Options range from standard group tours to in-depth guides with an archeologist. There’s even an option to take a hot air balloon ride over the ancient city.

It’s recommended to arrive for your visit at Teotihuacan when it opens and before the crowds arrive in the late morning and afternoon.

Try to plan your visit during the week, as entry to Teotihuacan Mexico is free for locals, which makes the weekends busy.

The site hosts several vendors selling crafts and souvenirs, so be sure to bring cash! A tour usually takes between 2-3 hours following the outlined routes.

There is also an on-site museum that displays artifacts recovered during archeological excavations of the city. If you decide to stop for lunch, La Gruta is a favorite spot, thanks to its unique construction within a natural cave!

As with most archeological sites in Mexico, the sun can be unforgiving, and temperatures climb high during the day. Make sure you pack appropriately!

Some structures are approved for climbing, depending on the time of the year, but always make sure to check first!

Here are a few more tips for planning a visit to Teotihuacan Mexico.

Tips for Your Visit:

  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking
  • Bring a hat and sun protection
  • Drink lots of water to avoid heatstroke
  • Bring cash if you plan on stopping for lunch or purchasing souvenirs

What To See in Ancient Teotihuacan

These archeological ruins cover approximately 8 square miles (20 square km).

You’ll be able to explore unique step pyramids, temples, and the city’s many plazas. Some of the palaces were once occupied by the city’s priests and noblemen.

Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan ruins in Mexico.The site also includes about 2,000 single-story apartment compounds!

The most important structures are connected by the Avenue of the Dead, which is oriented to point directly toward an extinct volcano, the sacred peak of Cerro Gordo.

Pyramid of The Moon

Pirámide de la Luna or Pyramid of the Moon is the second largest structure in Teotihuacan and sits at the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead. It is believed to have been the site of ritualistic sacrifices of both animals and humans

Pyramid of The Sun

Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan ruins in Mexico.Pirámide del Sol or Pyramid of the Sun is the largest structure in Teotihuacan Mexico. It faces west and sits half a mile south of the Pyramid of the Moon.

During excavations in 1971, a tunnel-like cave was discovered directly underneath the pyramid and is theorized to have been the scene of ancient fire and water rituals.

It could be that this cavern signified a place of emergence or creation in the ancient culture.

The Temple of Quetzalcoatl

The face of the serpent Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan ruins in Mexico.At the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead, you will find the 38-acre courtyard and Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

The face of the serpent Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan ruins in Mexico.The courtyard contains many elite residential complexes thought to have been inhabited by nobles in this ancient society, along with the interior Citadel, or Ciudadela, ceremonial center and shrine.

The temple itself, as the name would suggest, is dedicated to the feathered serpent deity Quetzalcoatl. It is decorated with numerous stone heads and carvings to honor this mythical hero of Mesoamerican culture.

Prepare to be awed and inspired on your visit to Teotihuacan Mexico.

Marvel at some of the most impressive structures of Mesoamerican history and join the many curious minds who wonder at the mysterious origins of this ancient city.

Travel with Caravan & Experience Teotihuacan!

The ancient city of Teotihuacan Mexico is one of the country’s most important and popular archeological sites.

As part of our all-inclusive Mexico Ancient Civilizations tour, you will explore the ruins of Teotihuacan fully guided by a very knowledgeable local guide.

Caravan Tours has been offering fully guided tours throughout the United States, Canada and Central America since 1952 and celebrated our 70th anniversary in 2022!

We do our best to keep our fully guided tours affordable and many of our guests include families, seniors and groups.

We also offer an all-inclusive Copper Canyon Mexico train tour that includes visits to:

To learn more about Teotihuacan Mexico or to book your 2023 tour date, please contact us.

NOTE: Caravan Mexico tours are popular and generally sell out so do book early to secure your preferred tour dates.


Teotihuacan Mexico FAQs

Who built Teotihuacan?

Historians are unclear as to who built Teotihuacan Mexico but have noted the ancient city has influences from the Mayan, Zapotec and Mixtec cultures.

Where is Teotihuacan?

Teotihuacan is approximately 30 miles (50 km) from Mexico City.

When was Teotihuacan built?

The primary structures at Teotihuacan Mexico were built between 400 BC and 400 AD.

How far is Teotihuacan from Mexico City?

The distance from Teotihuacan to Mexico City is about 30 miles (50km).

What does Teotihuacan mean?

Teotihuacan, which means “where the Gods were created” was named by the Aztecs in the 15th century.

Can you climb the Teotihuacan pyramids?

Climbing the stairs of the Pyramid of the Sun is permitted as of this writing.

How big is Teotihuacan?

The entire archeological site of Teotihuacan covers approximately 8 square miles (21 sq. km).