The ruins of Mesoamerican city Teotihuacán are now one of Mexico’s biggest draws, with an estimated two million annual visitors, and a prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The main focal points of the site itself are the two pyramids, as well as the central Avenue of the Dead walkway. Here’s our brief history of one of the city’s most emblematic and culturally impactful archaeological attractions, even though it is actually located in the modern-day State of Mexico.
Supposedly more or less established by 100AD, this pre-Hispanic city was once the largest in the Americas and home to around 125,000 inhabitants at its peak in around 450AD. As well as holding anthropological significance due to the presence of residential zones, it also functioned as a religious centre. This is evident in its very name; Teotihuacán roughly means ‘place where gods were born’, and was also believed to be the location where the universe was created. However, this Nahuatl-language title was only bestowed on the site in the 6th century. Prior to that, evidence suggests it was called ‘place of the reeds’, or Puh.
There still exists much debate over who the native people of the site were; suggestions range from Nahuas, Otomis or Totomecs, to the more inclusive proposition that it was simply multi-ethnic. A common misconception though is that Teotihuacán is an Aztec site, despite it already being in ruins before the commencement of the Aztec period. Teotihuacán’s downfall began around the 6th century, as environmental issues spiked a rise in early deaths. These problems came to a head in the 7th century, when many of the buildings associated with the ruling classes were methodically burned and ransacked, perhaps due to internal unrest.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
An interesting quirk of Teotihuacán is the presence of the talud-tablero architectural style, which interestingly enough finds its origins in the Preclassic period (at sites like Tikal, Guatemala), although is also prominent in Mayan architecture. This historic city also established the Mexican penchant for extraordinary muralism early on, with several well-preserved examples being on display there. As well as muralism, the Mesoamerican city was also a thriving industrial hub – obsidian was a particularly prominent material of choice, but the creation of pottery and jewellery was also notable. Yet crafting wasn’t the only thing concerning the city’s Mesoamerican residents, as plenty of archaeological evidence points towards the fact that human and animal sacrifices were carried out here too.
Despite stories of human sacrifice, it still remains one of the most visually breathtaking archaeological sites in the country; you stroll down the Avenue of the Dead (Miccoatli), which is bordered by the Pyramid of the Sun (whose interior has never been entirely explored), as well as several ceremonial platforms and the Templo de Quetzalcoatl, before reaching the Pyramid of the Moon. Discovery never ends at Teotihuacán though, as the latter pyramid is currently undergoing further excavations due to a 2014 discovery of some huge subterranean tunnels.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.