The capital city of Mexico is huge and has over 20 million inhabitants; but the city as we could see it now is fairly recent. Before being Mexico and the country's capital, the area was covered with a lake and the pre-Aztec people had built a city (named Tenochtlitlan) around the ninth and tenth century. The Aztecs then widened the city and made it their capital. The Spanish conquerors landed in the sixteenth century and destroyed much of the pre-Columbian remains, dried up the lake and built the city of today.
We loved this city whose colonial architecture is very impressive. Despite the high population density, there are still many parks and we got to play with the not very fierce squirrels. And of course, we were expecting it for a long time; we tried our first Mexican dishes !!! Tacos, quesadillas and other enchiladas!
In the city center, next to the Presidential Palace, we visited the "Templo Mayor" (or "Great Temple") which is a remnant of Tenochtitlan, administrative center of the Aztec. This temple was rediscovered in 1978 because during the Spanish era the remains had been buried. Archaeologists have discovered that the temple had had thirteen construction phases between 1375 and 1519. The main pyramid has had 7 different construction phases, overlapping each other. Indeed, the city had been built on a former lake, and the water level kept up forcing its inhabitants to raise the buildings. Like all places of power, archaeologists found places of worship; religion and governance are inseparable. We love to walk around the ruins and try to imagine what life was like at that time ... And have these ruins in the heart of the city, makes the visit even stranger ...
Not far from Mexico City, we also visited another very important archaeological site: the site of Teotihuacan. The city of Teotihuacan was built around 200 BC and would have declined between 500 to 600 AD. The political and religious center was one of the largest pre-Columbian America and the city certainly had between 150 000 and 200 000 inhabitants. Archaeologists have yet to agree on "who" would have founded the city. The remains showed signs of civilization Toltecs, Mayans, Mixtecs, Zapotecs and other Totonac ... (Do not worry, these names are unknown to us as well…!!!).
Any as its foundation, its fall is also controversial. Some believe that the city was destroyed by another civilization that would set fire, but as the burnt remains have been found only on the religious and political buildings, other scientists believe that there was an internal revolt.
But it is this share of mysteries that we like. We were immediately impressed by the long avenue of the dead, surrounded by several pyramids, the highest one is the pyramid of the sun. We walked in every corner of this great city and have discovered some residential areas with beautiful carved columns, the temple of a plumed serpent (one of the gods of that time), a representation of a jaguar (sacred animal ) ...
As we still do not have enough of ruins, we went to visit another archaeological site near Mexico: the site of Xochicalco. This city was built after the fall of Teotihuacan, around 650 years AD, after extensive population movements. The city enjoys an elevated position on top of a hill. Like other sites in the region, there are several pyramids, including one representing the plumed serpent, but there are also two balls playground and an astronomical observatory. His fall dates from the early 900, and again, the reasons are not clear.
Although the buildings look like Teotihuacan, we enjoyed this visit; firstly because this site is not touristy (we had to be barely a dozen) and there are more "green" than Teotihuacan. The observatory is built in a natural cave: the "astronomers" of the time had dug a hole to the surface, to observe the stars; and the sun is perfectly vertically above this orifice twice a year during the summer and winter solstices. We are also often impressed by these knowledges, finally we have not found much despite our technology. In the past people were really amazing: astronomy, medicine, conservation, construction ... They were already connoisseurs!
And being in a large capital also has other advantages: we went twice to the cinema (see films in OV) and even went to the Blue Man Group show !!! Now we go to Oaxaca.