The temple according to tradition myth is located on the exact spot where to god Huitzilopochtli gave the Mexica people the promised land. The Templo Mayor was a symbolic representation of the Hill of Coatepec where Huitzilopochtli was born emerging from his mother fully grown and ready to fight his sister Coyolxauhqui and her brothers the Centzon who intended to kill their mother and him.
Templo mayor which is Spanish for “The great Temple” is a vast temple and city of waterways created on Lake Texcoco that was originally inhabited by the Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco established around 1325. It was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987. The city was the capital of the Aztec Empire in the fifteenth century. Until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1521. It is said that when the Spanish first saw the city they thought maybe they were dreaming. Never before had they seen a city built on top of the water, They were amazed.
Moctezuma II welcomed the Spaniards as a special guest fearing a war and that Cortes could be the returning god Quetzalcoatl because of the arrival time and the cycle of the Aztec calendar. Shortly after the Spaniards arrived Cortes left for Veracruz to find the Spaniards that wanted to arrest him leaving Alvarado in charge. Alvarado had feared that the Tenochtitlan Aztecs were going to attack. His men captured three men of the tribe and supposedly tortured them until they said yes they were going to attack them. In response, Alvarado attacked first during a sacred religious festival even though there was no proof. The Aztecs were caught off guard trapped and unarmed in the walls of the Sacred precinct around Ten-thousand Aztecs were killed. Most of which were the nobles of the Aztecs.
In 1519 Cortes seized the emperor and ordered the destruction of the relics of Aztecs to be replaced by a Catholic cross placed on top of the Templo Mayor. The Spaniards continued to build a colonial town over the top of the Tenochtitlan city which is now the center of Mexico City.
Essentially all of Mexico city’s Centro is built over the top the Tenochtitlan and Lake Texcoco Temples and city. In 1978 directed by archaeologist Eduardo Moctezuma to work on the excavations. He found that a great many of the artifacts were in good enough condition to study. To do the excavation thirteen buildings in the area of the temple had to be demolished. During the excavations, more than 7,000 objects were found including offerings, clay pots in the images of skeletons, frogs, coral masks, knives and much more. The Tempel is surrounded by large serpents and frogs that were meant to protect it.
The excavation of the city under the city is huge honestly I could probably go on about it for as many pages as to create a novel. There’s just so much interesting history and artifacts here. I highly recommend a visit. But rather than geek out on it, for now, I’ll just say that I was completely enthralled with the ruins and the well-displayed museum that is separated into rooms under the walkways of Centro. It’s only 70-80 pesos to enter and walk around both the ruin and the museum. You can actually see some of it for free when walking around the excavation site above. I walked around it after I visited the museum enjoying a Coca-Cola sin azucar and really looking at the ruin from above was a different take of the temple. There are large models of the ruins in the plaza area that give you a better idea of what it must have been like. I spent at least a few hours walking around and reading all about this area and learning the history.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to shoot me a comment below. I promise I’ll get right back to you. Thank you for coming along on this adventure be sure to check back in on Thursday for a new adventure at the Mexico city metropolitan cathedral.
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