I didn’t entirely know what to expect when visiting the ruins at Teotihuacán today.
I’d read about the powerful city/state that had imploded hundreds of years before the Aztecs settled the valley.
I learned at the Archeology museum how the Mexica were so awestruck by the buildings they found there that they assumed this must have been where the gods lived when they created the Earth and started to model their own architecture and cities after what was here. As if a wandering pack of stoners stumbled onto the ruins of Atlantis.
I’d even read up a bit on the lost culture and society (we don’t even know what they called themselves, Teotihuacán being an Aztec name for them) and about the pyramids of the Sun and Moon - the largest and second largest in the Americas, respectively.
But nothing… NOTHING could have prepared me for the reality of the place. The scope of it. The majesty. The astronomical precision and intrigue. The brilliance of city design in a place that must have felt as magical then (otherwise, why chose it to be the site of the largest city in the Americas and the sixth largest in the world at the time and spend all that money and effort building it) as it does now.
The first settlers were working here before Rome was built. During its height the Vikings hadn’t found the land that would one day be called England yet. And by the time it fell to only a few stragglers living among the ruins Charlemagne was emperor.
And yet the ghosts of all the hundreds of thousands who lived there still haunt the place. And their reverence of their valley and the world and universe around them presses down on you.
My favorite bit of the entire visit:
The Pyramid of the Moon, sitting at the head of the wide Avenue of the Dead. It appears as just a speck at the bottom of an impressive hill from the south end.
But as you get closer and closer, like a movie shot where the zoom on the foreground and background stretch, the pyramid BECOMES the hill.
Slowly, ever so slowly. Until, with wristwatch precision, at the very moment you reach the foot of the alter at the center of the temple square, the last trace of the hill behind it vanishes.
And just like that, the works of man have been stapled to the creation of their gods. Rooted and inseparable.
I could go on for just as long (and probably will) about the equally impressive (and twice as big) Pyramid of the Sun.
But our bus ride back into the city is about to land at our stop.
What an amazing, haunting, wonderful, and glorious place! We’ll be heading back to the Museum to reread about the city later this week. So when we return to Teotihuacán next visit we’ll be even more prepared to appreciate it.