Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Location: Home, United Kingdom

You all know who I am, I assume.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mexico City part the third: Taxco and Teotihuacán

Technically neither of the following places are in Mexico City, being rather outside of it, but when Arsenal have just sold Vieira for peanuts compared to what he's worth you'll forgive me if my mind is elsewhere and thus my accuracy suffers.

First up, the picturesque colonial former silver mining town on Taxco, located South of "el D.F" in some mountains. It's the usual with regards colonial towns, to be honest: cobbles, lovely (though in this case rather overdone especially the churrigueresque inside) central church, lots of nice smaller churches, small town feel. A bit dull, not a whole lot to do. The main differences with Taxco are that 1) it's built on a ruddy great hill so everything is either up or down a steep slope but there are great panoramic views, and 2) its history of association with silver means that despite there being none of that precious metal left in the hills around the town any more, it all having been mined, it is reknowned as a place to buy jewellery made of the stuff, which unfortunately means every shop, hustler and kid in town is trying their utmost to get you to buy some from them.

I spent a couple of hours there wandering around the streets and enjoying the atmosphere, then came back to the big city.

Speaking of big cities, at a time roughly the same as that at which the Roman Empire was the top dog in southern Europe and some surrounding areas, the king of things round these parts was the citystate of Teotihuacán. That wasn't its actual name, mind you, that's the name the Aztecs gave it hundreds of years later. They revered it, thus giving it a title that means "the place where men became gods". The actual name of the place is, alas, unknown because the Spaniards (them again) destroyed any written material that might have survived to tell us in the name of God.

What does remain of a city that at it's height covered an area of 25 square kilometres and had a population of 175,000 people is, as usual with Mesoamerican sites, the religious and ceremonial heart. In layman's terms, a series of ruddy great pyramids. The biggest two are the Temples of the Sun and of the Moon. That of the Sun is the second biggest pyramid in Mesoamerica (the largest being just a ruin now), its base a very similar size to that of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, though a shallower slope and stepped sides mean that it's shorter than that particular edifice. It's still huge though, the biggest thing I've ever seen in terms of ruins, and very impressive, though perhaps not aesthetically as pleasing as the Temple of the Moon. Despite being smaller, this is on higher ground so that its peak is about the same height as that of the other large pyramid. It's in better condition, and looks nicer to boot.

The site also boasts lots of ruined areas where the priest/rulers of the cities lived, altars on which they sacrificed people and animals and other temples (with impressive carved facades featuring the faces of Tlaloc the God of Rain and (of course) the plumed serpant of Quetzalcoatl), as well as a good museum, and lots and lots of other tourists and cheeky Mexican schoolkids.

Those two places represent probably my last journeys out of Mexico City. From now on I shall be concentrating purely on sights within the city, starting tomorrow with the world-reknowned Museum of Anthropology, wherein I shall see relics and artefacts from the Mayan, Olmec, Toltec, Zapotec, Teotihuacan and Aztec cultures, for perhaps the last time. Sniff...


Anonymous Shall said...

Saamyuell, please tell me you have not been eaten by a hurricane

July 17, 2005 at 5:11 AM  

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