Tenayuca | Attraction Guides | History Hit


Tlalnepantla, Estado de Mexico, Mexico

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Luis Antonio Maya Orozco / Shutterstock

About Tenayuca

Tenayuca is an archaeological Mesoamerican site in Mexico which dates back to the Aztec and Chichimec civilisations.

History of Tenayuca

Legend says Tenayuca was founded in the 13th century by a Chichimeca leader, Xolotl, who built it as a fortified city for his people, although some archaeological evidence suggests the site had been occupied prior to this.

However, Tenayuca was a site of relatively short-lived importance: it was conquered by the mid 14th century by the nearby city of AZacapotzalco, and shortly after that, it was subsumed by the Aztec Empire.

When the Spanish arrived in the area, they gave Tenayuca the name El Pueblo de los Serpientes (the town of the serpents). This is probably from the series of stone coatepantlis (serpent walls) which surrounded the base of the pyramid: it’s similar to decorations found at the Toltec site of Tula, leading historians to think it was copied in homage to a greater power.

Conquistadors took the town in 1520, and it was eventually abandoned. Tenayuca was rediscovered in 1925 by Mexican archaeologists.

Tenayuca today

The site of Tenayuca is nestled right in the heart of the modern municipality of Tlalnepantla de Baz in Greater Mexico City and consists of a vast Mesoamerican pyramid structure which dominates the site. It can feel surreal seeing the bustle of modern city life around such an ancient pyramid!

The pyramid is in good condition: you can’t climb it, but a large amount of decoration has survived and is extremely impressive. There’s a small museum on site. Tenayuca is closed on Mondays.

Getting to Tenayuca

Tenayuca is in the northern suburbs of Mexico City: Tlalnepantla station is about 2km away. Multiple buses run close by, otherwise you can get a taxi from the centre of town.

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