Acatitlan | Attraction Guides | History Hit


Tlalnepantla, Estado de Mexico, Mexico

History Hit

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: aindigo / Shutterstock

About Acatitlan

The pyramid of Acatitlan is an impressive Mesoamerican archaeological site in the modern town of Santa Cecilia on the outskirts of Mexico City.

History of Acatitlan

Though a huge and impressive structure, the site itself is a little misleading, having been significantly reconstructed in the 1960s.

Probably inhabited since the 12th century, the site was later part of the area dominated by the Aztecs before the arrival of the conquistadors. The name ‘Acatitlan’ translates from Nauhautl as ‘the place among the reeds’, and the site is thought to have been dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of water and rain.

After the conquest of the Aztec Empire, Acatitlan was largely abandoned and the pyramid itself fell into decline as it was plundered for masonry. The remains of the pyramid were consumed by the land, buried under mud, plants and debris.

The site was ‘rediscovered’ in the 20th century, and a huge amount of reconstruction work was done on the pyramid in the 1960s by Eduardo Pelayo Moreno, an architect and archaeologist. Its very ‘complete’ appearance today is perhaps misleading therefore. The reconstruction was controversial at the time as it was not done entirely truthfully to how the original would have appeared.

Acatitlan today

The pyramid of Acatitlan is located in a small park in the heart of the modern town and is quite a surprising location to stumble upon. There is a small museum on site with further information about the history of the settlement and various Prehistoric artefacts. Closed Mondays.

Getting to Acatitlan

The pyramid is located in the northern suburbs of Mexico City: you’ll need to take several buses to get here from the Centro Historico, or else hop in an Uber, although bear in mind the traffic in Mexico City is often terrible, especially during rush hour.

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