Teotihuacan

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Few cities in the world have been considered worthy of being inhabited by Gods, who are accustomed to occupying loftier realms than those peopled by mere mortals. Teot ihuacan is such a city, and a thousand years of civilization, which today can still be felt along its wide avenues projecting out towards the cardinal points of the universe, had to pass before this place could be elevated to the ranks of a mythical city. It is a divine yet human city, patterned with streets and dwelling places which bore witness to bustling activity and into which men and goods entered and exited from the Valley of Mexico, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and even from as far south as the Mixteca and Tehuantepec regions.

The most obvious expression of the past generations and peoples who inhabited this site -only 50 kilometers northeast of Mexico City- are the archeological vestiges of the city itself, as well as the myriad remnants of fine pottery from Teotihuacan which are today exhibited around the world. The ceremonial center is laid out in symbolic representation of two axes; the north-south axis is named the Avenue of the Dead from which, akin to the wings of a butterfly, buildings, palaces, plazas and altars extend to either side. At one end stands the Pyramid of the Moon and off to one side, rising in an immense stone mass, looms the Pyramid of the Sun; two massive structures representing the duality of creation between nature and the men who built these walls with volcanic rock, limestone, and song.

Hundreds of years after it was abandoned, other men named this site the "City of the Gods", and not without reason, for its existence was governed by deep religious convictions and ways of life centered around the natural cycles and seasons of sowing, reaping, rainfall, and a cosmology of strict phenomenological relationships whose astronomical and calendrical expression was reflected in the construction of the city.

Teotihuacan is not only a monumental city, but also a place where the mural paintings allow the visitor to delve into a world of mythical figures of Gods, jaguars, nocturnal beings and liquid skies. The art of Teotihuacan does not end in its external manifestation but creates its own internal world of vases and ceremonial objects which, crafted over centuries, attained unprecedented levels of perfection.

The effect of contemplating a city left almost deserted by both the Toltecas and later the Mexica conjures up the aftermath of violent cataclysms whose literary expression lies in the legend of the Fifth Sun which, essentially, represents the periodic recreation of the universe, the final manifestation of which took place here in the City of the Gods. Although this era drew to a close with the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th Century, the patterns of life, urban designs, cycles of production and the social life of Teotihuacan are to this day reflected in the mirror of ages. 

 

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This page was last updated on Tuesday June 05, 2007

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