Friday, August 21, 2009

No Light Show for Teotihuacan

Mexico's National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) has decided to go along with recommendations made recently by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and suspend plans for a light and sound show at the pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan near Mexico City. Numerous Mexican preservationists and archaeologists were also against the show, which was to be called "The Radiance of Teotihuacan."

The UNESCO committee criticized the absence of a proper management plan and claimed that the project has caused damage to surfaces of the archaeological site's 2000-year-old pyramids, so the lighting and sound systems have been removed. However, INAH says that it has not totally given up on the idea of lighting up Teotihuacan -- which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 -- to attract more tourists and help bolster the local economy.

Personally, I've never been a big fan of light and sound shows. I often find them to be somewhat garish and over-dramatic. Perhaps it would be a better idea to let visitors into Teotihuacan at night so that they can see its pyramids as the ancients did -- by the light of the stars and the silvery moon.

GETTING THERE: Teotihuacan is located about 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Mexico City. Buses leave every 15 minutes from Mexico City's Terminal Norte. The trip takes about one hour. Last I heard, the archaeological site is open daily from 7am until 6pm and the admission is about US$4.00 (more if you want to use a video camera). The ruins can get very crowded on weekends. Best to visit on a weekday. Take a hat and expect to do a lot of walking.

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