Cuicuilco

For two years I looked down on the ruins of Cuicuilco, from high up in an office block on the southern part of the Periferico. Every Tuesday and Thursday I’d see them, and though they were no more than a few minutes walk from the offices, I never got round to visiting them. I left that job in 2007 – the school sending me there didn’t understand the concept of timely or complete payments – so I haven’t been looking down on them lately. But still I kept it in mind for a visit one day. And lo and behold, after a total of four years of keeping them in mind, I finally visited them yesterday.

It has to be said, the ruins of Cuicuilco aren’t the most impressive in the world. Far from it. It does have its charms though, set in a small wooded parkland with lots of cactus and open green spaces. Even though it is surrounded by tower blocks with the thrum of traffic charging along the Periferico a constant reminder that you haven’t quite escaped the city. You can even see the rollercoasters of the Six Flags theme park in the distance.

But it is a pleasant environment nonetheless and there are swarms of squirrels, butterflies and geckos who have made it there home. There’s also a lot of the black volcanic rock about, which is so prevailant in this part of the city, and has long been used as a building material. By the Aztecs, by Diego Rivera and many others. Ancient and modern alike seem to appreciate its qualities!

This ancient settlement was itself destroyed by a volcano, as detailed in the painting below that is hung in the (very) small museum on the site. It is, apparently, the oldest Aztec city in the Valley of Mexico, sitting on the southern shores of the now long since gone  Lake Texcoco. I took a few photos, including one of a map of the area when the lake still existed, which shows why the ancient cities were located where they were. You can see all my photos by clicking here. Is it worth visiting? If you have plenty of time, or regularly visit, then sure. Or if you are a serious ruins nut, then definitely. Otherwise, to be honest, it’s a bit small and a bit far from the Centro Historico to be worth the trip. 

One thought on “Cuicuilco

  1. Interesting, I visited a few times back in 98-99 when living on the UNAM campus. The museum was always closed and the site was not as well kept. Thanks for the update

    The archeological zone of Cuicuilo was one the first towns of the Valley of Mexico. This pyramid is located south of University City and reached its splendor period from the 600 b.C. to the 200 b.C.

    One the most highlighting aspects of this structure is its conic form because it is the only construction of Mesoamerica with that form. It could be the conic form is because it was the first monumental building of the Valley of Mexico and for that the builders wanted to recreate the shape of the big mountains that surround the site to consolidate their power over the people by pretending that the governors were the proprietors of the mountains.

    Paradoxically this prosperous town was destroyed by the surrounding mountains because around the 200 B.C. the Xitle volcano erupted, graving partially with lava this zone, and this zone was hidden until the year 1922 when it was discovered. Since then Cuicuiclo is one the major attractions of the city and in the spring equinox there are realized festivals like in Teotihuacan. You can easily get to this zone by Insurgentes Sur Avenue or by the Periferico highway

    http://sparks-mexico.com/Mex1999/DF/unam.htm

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