Monday, June 20, 2011

Mexico City, Day 2: The Origin of Mexico

There is an old Aztec legend that tells us how the Aztecs chose the site on which to build their capital city, Tenochtitlan.

Huitzilopochtli, who pulled double duty as both the sun god and the god of war, visited the Aztec chief in a dream. The leader was instructed that he must settle his clan, which referred to itself as "The People of the Sun," in the place in which they would find an eagle sitting on a prickly pear cactus eating a serpent. And so they set out to find this very thing. If you believe in legends and/or ancient dieties, then you might also believe that they were successful.

Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325.

The approximate 5.2 sq mi city served as the Aztec capital until Spanish invaders captured the city in 1521.

If there are two things I remember about Mexican history, having grown up in Texas, it's that:
  1. The Aztecs were bad-ass; and
  2. Texas and Mexico have a very violent shared history (Sidenote: My time in Mexico has taught me that blame for this is placed differently depending on which side of the Texas-Mexico border you lie)

But we aren't talking about Texas today. We're talking about Tenochtitlan. Home of the Aztecs, the dominating force in Mexico's pre-European civilization. I had always dreamt of visiting this city.

Maybe I should have paid more attention in history class; Tenochtitlan ain't there any more. Well, not exactly.

Following the Spanish occupation, Hernán Cortés ordered the destruction of the city. Modern day Mexico City would eventually be built on its ruins. So, technically, I guess I've been there after all.

Here's what the original city may have looked like.

...and this is all that remains of this important piece of history...

Also, as if to add insult to injury, the one place that held any remaining hope of my seeing this once great city, the Templo Mayor Museum, was closed for renovation.

Oh, well. Mexico City is a wonderful place. I'm sure I will go back one day. And by then, the museum should be open.

In the meantime, I've discovered that what I PROBABLY always meant to see was another ancient city called Teotihuacan. And see it, I did. But that's a subject for another day.


  1. Three things.
    1) I'm jealous.
    2) feed TJ. He looks to be fading away.
    3) The Aztecs were badass.

  2. The Aztecs WERE badass!
    Also, you are funny.