Avenue of the Dead

The main street through ancient Teotihuacán may have been called the Avenue of the Dead, but that doesn’t mean dead people are buried on it or along the road sides. The Aztecs so named it because the mounds on the sides of the road looked like tombs. Archeologists have now established that these were ceremonial platforms that were topped with temples.

The avenue was several kilometers long in its prime, but only a kilometer or two has been uncovered and restored. At 40 meters (131 feet) wide, this road would be considered wide by our standards today. Teotihuacán is in ruins now, but walking the Avenue of the Dead provides a glimpse of the city’s glorious past. You’ll walk by huge housing complexes and temples, some of which date back to before the birth of Christ.

Avenue of the Dead

At the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead, is a sprawling ceremonial plaza that Spanish conquistadors named La Ciudadela (the Citadel). Looking from a distance like a fortress, it was likely the home of the city’s high rulers.

Heading north along the Avenue of the Dead, you’ll see exquisite examples of the housing complexes and temples. On the right side is the enormous Pyramid of Sun. At a height of more than 63 meters (200 feet) and a base more than 225 meters (730 feet) long on each side, this pyramid is one of the largest structures created in the pre-Columbian New World. It would have been completed around 200-250 AD.

At the northern end of the avenue is the Pyramid of the Moon. Recent research suggests it was built in stages between around 1 AD and 350 AD. It started off as a small platform and eventually became a 46-meter (150-foot) high pyramid.