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  • Day4

    Teotihuacán - a place of pyramids

    February 26, 2018 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Today's explorations started with a trip to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadelupe. Without going into too much detail, this was an apparition of the Virgin Mary who appeared to a Mexican country worker called Juan Diego. The Virgin took 4 attempts, the last being a miracle, for Juan Diego to convince the local cardinal of the veracity of the encounter. As a result, there has been a church on this site since the 1500s. To be honest, I was fed up with the 'Catholic' side of this trip already but I have included a picture of the latest Cathedral, built in 1976, just due to the scale of the architecture.

    Thankfully, the church visit was relatively short and we could make our way to the site of Teotihuacán, which translates as 'The Place Where Men Become Gods'

    The Teotihuacán civilisation existed from around 400 B.C. to 700 A.D. approximately and the scale of the site was immense. There are two main pyramids in the complex, the smaller, steeper Pyramid of The Moon and the larger Pyramid of the Sun. They know this as the site was built from North to South but the Sun Pyramid faces East to West.

    The Moon Pyramid was constructed for the royal class to venerate the two main gods in their pantheon - Quetzalcoatl: the god of creation and Tlaloc: the rain god. 'And how did they do this?', you may ask. By the aforementioned human sacrifice, discussed yesterday. The chosen one would have considered it a huge honour to offer himself to the gods. He then would have a serpent applied to his body so that its venom would act as pain relief and the priests (for want of a better word), themselves high on ayahuasca, peyoté or similar to render themselves insensate to the enormity of what they were doing, would remove the offering's heart from under his ribcage and offer it bleeding to the gods by placing it in a special receptacle. The size of the receptacle dictated how many hearts were needed to fill it and therefore satisfy the gods.

    Apart from the Pyramids, there were also living quarters for the elite and there were still some original decorative steleae with their natural colouring intact.

    Of course, being as there were pyramids and thatwe were still allowed to climb them, we both did that, with the Moon Pyramid being around 400m tall and the Sun Pyramid 600m tall. The smaller one afforded great views of the ceremonial courtyard and the walkway known as The Avenue of The Dead. This long path was believed by the first people who visited the site after it was abandoned by the Teotihuacans, likely to have been the Mexicas some 600 years later, as the place where men would turn into gods and ascend to their celestial home - hence the name of the city.

    The Sun Pyramid offered breathtaking views of the whole site and the plateau on which it sits. It was pretty breathless as well as there were an awful lot of steep stair to ascend to its summit. The 26°C midday sun didn't help much either but I'm not complainingbeing as it's snowing in London. It was a fantastic proper introduction to an early pre-classic period, pre-hispanic civilisation.

    We returned to Mexico City for a free afternoon, where we took in some of the sites we hadn't seen including the inside of the Grand Opera House, a sculpture garden based on the art of Salvador Dali and a ride up to the viewing platform of the Torre Latinoamericano, which is just under 600ft tall. I would have posted pictures of the views but they weren't that great as the weather had closed in on the valley that holds Mexico City and you couldn't see very far!

    Tomorrow holds an 8 hour coach journey from Mexico City to Oaxaca City, so an early night beckons.
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