Mexico, Lago de Texoco, Teotihuacán, Chichimec, Toltecs, Tenochtitlán, Aztecs, Azcapotzalco, Huizilopochtli, Tlacopan, Huejotzingo, Cuauthemoc, Moctezuma |
Zócalo, Plaza de la Constituión, Palacio Nacional, Quetzalcoatl, Templo Mayor, Metropolitan Cathedral, Coyolxauhqui, Guadelope, Tepéyac |
Topotzolan, Museo Nacional de Arte Virrenial, Tula, Tiahuizcalpantecuhtli, Topiltzin, Tezatlipoco, Toltec, Quetzalcoatle, Moctezuma |
Cuernavaca, Taxo, Jose de la Borde, William Spratling |
Teatro de la Guidao, Juan O'Gorman, Xochimilco |
Plaza de las tres Culturas, Tlatelolco, Cuauhtemoc |
Teotenango, Matlazinca |
Chapultepec, Museo Nacional de Historica, Museo Nacional de Antropology |
** Click Images to enlarge **
As early as 10,000 BC, humans and animals were attracted to the shores of a lake, Lago de Texoco, that covered much of the floor of the valley of Mexico. Some time after 7500 BC the lake began to shrink and hunting became more difficult, so the inhabitants turned to agriculture, developing techniques such as Chinampas, or floating gardens, versions of which are still seen in Xochimilco on the southern outskirt of Mexico City. A loose federation of farming villages had evolved around Lago de Texoco by approximately 200 BC, but the big influence in the region was Teotihuacan, a rapidly developing city 25 km north-east of the lake. After centuries as the capital of an empire, Teotihuacan fell in the 7th century. The power vacuum was filled by a Chichimec tribe, based at Tula, known as Toltecs. By the 13th century the Tula had also collapsed, leaving a number of small city-states around the lake to compete for control of the Valley of Mexico. But is was the Aztecs another Chichimec tribe from the north who came out on top.
Some time between 1325 and 1345 the Aztecs, wandering around the swampy fringes of the lake, finally founded their own city, Tenochtitlán, on an island near the the lake's western shore. The site was chosen, according to the legend, because there they saw an eagle standing on a cactus eating a snake- a sign, they believed , that they should stop their wanderings and build a city. About 1370 the Aztecs began to serve as successful mercenaries for the expanding kingdom of Azcapotzalco on the western shore of the lake. When the Aztecs own growing strength finally led them to rebel against Azcapotzalco about 1427, they became the greatest power in the valley. At the same time the Aztecs sense of their own importance as the chosen people of the voracious Huizilopochtli was growing too. In the mid-15th century they formed a triple alliance with the lakeshore states Texcoco and Tlacopan, to conduct the so-called "Flowery Wars" against Tlaxcala and Huejotzingo, which lay east of the valley. The purpose was to gain a steady supply of prisoners needed to satisfy Huizilopochtli vast hunger for sacrificial victims, so that the sun would continue to rise each day and floods and famines could be avoided. On one occasion in 1847, no less than 20,000 prisoners were sacrificed in four days to dedicate Tenochtitlán newly rebuild main temple.
This was the city that amazed the Spanish when arrived in 1519, by which time its population was an estimated 200,000. Wrecked and plundered during and after the Spanish conquest, Tenochtitlán was rebuild as a Spanish city. Ancient Mexican civilization, nearly 3000 years old, was shattered in two short years from 1519 to 1521. A tiny group of invaders destroyed the Aztec empire, brought a new religion and reduced the native people to second class citizens and slaves.
From this dramatic encounter arose modern Mexico. Most Mexicans, being mestizo ( of mixed Indian and European blood), are descendants of both cultures. But while Cuauthemoc, the last Aztec emperor, is now an official hero, Cortés, the leader of the Spanish conquerors, is a villain, and Indians who helped him are seen as traitors. By today the population of Mexico city and adjacent areas is estimated at 22 million, about a quarter of the national total, making it one of world's most populous and most crowed metropolitan areas. And at the same time Mexico city is the centre of Mexico's industry, retail trade, finance, communication and culture. Mexico city's severe traffic and industrial pollution is made worse by the mountains which ring the valley and prevent air from dispersing, by the altitude and consequent lack of oxygen, and by thermal inversion which occurs particularly in the cooler months. Thus not recommended for people with bronchitis or other respiratory problems.
Mexico is partly tropical and the food and water in Mexico will have more and different bacteria from those your digestive system is used to. Instead, observe the rules of save eating and drinking and you will only suffer the Montezuma's revenge a little diarrhea and fever, which is negligible.
We stay in hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton an excellent hotel opposite the El Angel monument and a very good base to explore the city. The historic center of Mexico city is the Plaza de la Constituión, more commonly known as the Zócalo. The plaza was first paved in the 1520s by Cortés with stones from the ruins of the grandest and most important set of temples and palaces of the Aztec empire. The Zócalo is the home of the power-that be in Mexico city. On the east side is the Palacio Nacional, on the north the Cathedral Metropolitana. The buildings on the south side house the Departemento del Distrito. Just off the south-west corner of the plaza at Avenida 16 de Septiembre 82 is the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, with ornate bird cage elevators rising towards a spectacular stained-glass canopy floating above it lobby.
Palacio Nacional home to the offices of the president of Mexico, the Federal Treasury, The National Archives, and the colorful dramatic murals by Rivera, which are the prime attraction of the palace. They present Rivera's view of the history of the Mexican civilization from the arrival of Quetzalcoatl to the 1910 revolution.
The Metropolitan Cathedral was build between 1573 and 1813. Though disfigured in recent years by scaffolding, as builders struggle to arrest its uneven descent into the soft ground on which it's build, the cathedral is still impressive. The cathedral has a central nave, two processional or side naves and two chapel naves with 16 heavily decorated chapels and 27 gilled altars, sculptures paintings and much more.
Templo Mayor, the teocalli of Aztec Tenochtitlán, demolished by the Spaniards in 1520s, stood on the side of the cathedral and the blocks to its north and east. Archaeologists established the location of the Templo Mayor in the first half of the 20th century, but the decision to excavate it, with the demolition of colonial buildings that this entailed, wasn't made until 1978 after electricity workers digging north-east of the cathedral happened upon an eighth-tonne stone disk carving of the Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui. On your way to this temple site stop at the Fountain of óTenochtitlán. A brass model of the ancient island city is displayed in de pool, with causeways linking it to the lake shore.
Guadalupe according to the legend, the Virgin of Guadelupe materialized to the little farmer Juan Diego with the instruction to build a chapel on Tepéyac hill. Every year Thousands of pilgrims go on all fours up to the hill.
Tepotzolan about 35 km north of central Mexico city, In the 1960s is a part of Jesuit monastery and church - including its peaceful gardens - transformed into the Museo Nacional de Arte Virrenial. Among the fine art and folk art gathered here are silver chalices, pictures created from inlaid wood, porcelain, furniture and some of the finest religious paintings and statues from the epoch.
Though less spectacular than Teotihuacán, Tula is still an absorbing site best known for its fearsome 5 meter-high stone warrior figures, original the pillars of the temple Tiahuizcalpantecuhtli (try to pronounce it). There is a little doubt that Tula was an important city from about 900 to 1150 AD, reaching a peak population of 30,000. Aztec annuals tell of a king called Topiltzin - fair skinned, long haired and black bearded - who founded a city in the 10th century as the capital of the Toltec people. Topiltzin was a priest king dedicated to the peaceful, non-human sacrificing workship of the serpent god Quetzalcoatle. After some troubles with Tezatlipoco and according to the legend this humiliated leader left for the gulf coast, where he set sail eastward on a raft of snakes, promising one day to return and reclaim his throne. This caused the Aztec emperor Montezuma much consternation when Herman Cortés - fair skinned, long haired and black bearded - arrived on the Gulf coast in 1519, just on the the day the priests calculated the return of Topiltzin. If Cortés had no beard and long hair the Spaniards are beaten and this culture still exist.
Cuernavaca about 85 km from Mexico city has been a retreat from Mexico City since colonial times. Cortés imposing medieval-style fortress stands at the south-eastern end of the plaza de Armes. Construction of this two-storey stone palace was accomplished between 1522 and 1532, on the base of the large pyramid which Cortés destroyed. In the 18th century used as prison and later on used by various government offices, exhibits today highlighting the history and cultures of Mexico. Special the giant mural which shows scenes from the conquest to the 1910 revolution, emphasizing the cruelty, oppression an violence which have characterized Mexican history is very interested.
The old silver mining town of Taxco, 180 km south-east of Mexico City, is a gorgeous colonial antique, and one of the most picturesque and pleasant places in Mexico. In 1534 the Spaniards discovered tremendous lodes of silver. But the prospectors quickly emptied the first veins of silver and left Taxco. Till 1743, Jose de la Borde accidentally uncovered one of the area's richest veins. He introduced new techniques of draining and repairing mines and he reportedly treated his Indian workers much better than those working in the colonial mines. The church Santa Prisca was his gift to Taxco, according some people it is a masterpiece of baroque architecture but to my opinion it is a monster. In 1932, William Spratling set up the first silver workshop and today there are more then 300 silver shops in Taxco selling some of the finest silverwork in the world.
Ballet Folclorico Nacional de Mexico, dedicated to the preservation of Mexican folkloric dance, presented its debut performance in 1960 under the direction of founder Silvia Lozano, in 1977 designated as Mexico's official folkloristic company, and it now represent the Government of Mexico at home and aboard, performing throughout the world.
If the company is at home it is highly recommended to visit their performance, We have seen a performance in the Teatro de la Guidao and enjoyed it very much.
The University City, two km south of San Angel, is the main campus of Latin America's biggest university, and one of the nation's modern architectural showpieces. The Central Library, is one of Mexico's most eye-catching modern buildings - 10 floors high, almost windowless, and covered on every side with mosaics by Juan O'Gorman.
On Sunday you have to visit Xochimilco, a suburb of "floating gardens" 20 km south of Zócalo. Xochimilco on Sunday is a highlight of all Mexican slush, Más México no hay.... it has to be experienced. More than 3000 boats, mostly colorful trajineras propelled by one man with a pole, cruise the canals with parties of Mexican merrymakers, screaming mariachi bands, photographers, floating flower stalls, taco bars and big pots of steaming corn. The waterways are jammed with people trying to arrange a boat, cruising the canals or fast-talking you into buying something. You won't have trouble finding a boat: the boatmen will find you..... Más México no hay!
Plaza de las Tres Culturas, so called because it symbolizes the fusion of pre-Hispanic and Spanish roots into the modern Mexican mestizo identity. The Aztec pyramids of Tlatelolco the 17th-century Spanish colonial church of Santiago, and the modern Foreign Affairs building on the plaza south side represent the three cultures. Spaniards under Cortés defeated Tlatelolco's Aztec defenders, led by Cuauhtemoc, here in 1521, An inscription about that battle in the plaza today translate: 'This was neither victory nor defeat. It was the sad birth of the mestizo people which is in Mexico today'. One of the modern buildings Nueve Leon collapsed during a earthquake, more than 100 families died under the ruins, and the days after more than thousand people sleeping at the only save place, the ruins of the pyramid Tlatelolco.
Teotihuacan, If there is any 'must see' attraction in the vicinity of Mexico City, it is Teotihuacán, some 50 km north-east of the city. Site of the huge pyramids of the Sun and Moon. Teotihuacán was Mexico's biggest ancient city, with perhaps 200,000 people at its peak, and the capital of probably Mexico's biggest pre-Hispanic empire. The knowledge about is very poor. A grid plan for the city was used from the early years AD and the pyramid of the Sun was build - over an earlier cave shrine - by 150 AD. most of the rest of the city was (re)build between about 250 and 600 AD. At its peak in the 6th century it was the six-largest city of the world. It declined, was plundered and then was virtually abandoned in the 7th century. Later on discovered by the Aztec's giving the name Teotihuacán, Avenue of the Dead etc. Teotihuacán was still a pilgrimage site for the Aztec royalty, who believed that all the gods had sacrificed themselves here to start the sun moving at the beginning of the 'fifth world', which the Aztecs inhabited.
Teotenango, 25 km south of Toluca, is overlooked from the west by a large, well- restored hilltop ruins of Teotenango, a Matlazinca ceremonial center dating from the 9th century. The site, with several pyramids, plazas and a ball court, is quite extensive, with great views.
The Bosque de Chapultepec has remained Mexico City's largest park for almost 500 years. Today it covers more than four sq km and has lakes, a zoo and several world class museums. On Sundays thousands of people are relaxing in the park, keep in mind that per inhabitant only 0.6 sq centimeter green is available. Museo Nacional de Historica
has two floors of exhibits the rise and the fall of New Spain, Mexican revolution etc.
Several ground floor rooms are decorated with murals. Museo Nacional de Antropologyis one of finest museums of its kind in the world with 25 rooms, 13 for Archaeology and
12 for Entnology. The entrance is marked with a 167 tonne monolith of Tláloc. The Museum is really fascinating and very large, with more than most people can absorb in a single visit.
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