Piramide de Cuicuilco | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Piramide de Cuicuilco

Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Javier Garcia / Shutterstock.

About Piramide de Cuicuilco

Cuicuilco is an ancient archaeological site and museum next to Mexico City’s Lake Texcoco which includes the striking Piramide de Cuicuilco.

History of Piramide de Cuicuilco

Dating back to the Mesoamerican era perhaps as far as 800 BC, Cuicuilco is thought to be one of Mexico’s oldest sites. At its peak, Cuicuilco is believed to have had a population of between 20,000 and 40,000 people.

Cuicuilco is comprised of numerous ruins, including a 23 metre high, five-level, circular pyramid (the Piramide de Cuicuilco) thought to be of religious and cosmic significance. Whilst originally built as a farming community, Cuicuilco later developed into a ceremonial city, maybe even the predecessor of Teotihuacan, as evidenced by its relatively well-preserved remains, which include both residential and religious structures.

The ruins of an old water drainage system are also present, demonstrating the relative sophistication of Cuicuilco’s inhabitants.

Cuicuilco was finally abandoned sometime between 150 and 200 AD, following the rise of Teotihuacan, which many archaeologists believed encouraged the migration of residents from the surrounding areas . In 400AD, the nearby Xitle volcano erupted, destroying what remained of the Piramide de Cuicuilco and dispersing the remains of Cuicuilca culture.

The first excavations of the site were undertaken in the 1920s, and later excavations in the 1960s saw the uncovering of over 300,000 ceramic pots as well as a variety of domestic items which give an invaluable insight into the everyday lives of those who lived in Cuicuilco.

Piramide de Cuicuilco today

The site makes a relatively start contrast to the downtown skyscrapers of Coyoacan, but it’s a nice way to spend an hour or so. The site is only open Wednesday-Friday at the moment, so do check before going. There’s a small museum, and signage for some walking trails in the area.

Getting to Piramide de Cuicuilco

The pyramid is on the southern outskirts of Mexico City, close to UNAM. The nearest metro stop is about 5km away: buses run regularly to this part of town and you should be able to find one from the metro station to the pyramid to beat the worst of Mexico City’s hellish traffic.

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