Tenochtitlan – a city-state, located on the site of the modern city of Mexico. The tradition is such that once, the God of the Sun and Huitzilopochkli wars told the Indians “Meshik” (they are Aztecs), so that they founded the city of Tenochtitlan at the place where they see the picture – the eagle on the cactus will hold a snake in its claws. Such an opportunity was given to them even after 130 years of wandering in the southern lands of North America, when on one of the islands of the Lake Texcoco the Indians saw an eagle holding a snake in its claws.
Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Aztecs
According to a more realistic version, the Mexica tribe came to the valley of Mexico City from the north – from lands that now belong to the United States. At that time, the entire territory of the valley was divided between local tribes, and, of course, none of them wanted to share land with aliens. After consulting, local leaders decided to give the alien island a desert island on the Lake Texcoco. There were many snakes on the island, so the locals expected that the newcomers on the island would have a hard time. Arriving on the island, the Aztecs saw that there were many snakes living on it, and they were very happy about this, because the snakes were their food. The Aztecs and the eagle they saw holding a snake in their paws was perceived as a good omen. According to the Aztec notions, it symbolized the triumph of good over evil. Thus, approximately in 1325, Tenochtitlan was founded on the island in the middle of the salt lake of Texcoco (translated from Aztec as the “cactus rock house”), and in 1337, north of Tenochtitlan, the separated part of the tribe founded the city of Tlatelolko satellite.
The city grew rapidly: 7.5 square kilometers and 100,000 inhabitants – these were the indicators of its growth approximately 100 years after its foundation. And over the next 100 years, the city grew to 13.5 square kilometers, which accommodated up to 212,500 inhabitants (according to other sources, up to 350,000 and even up to 500,000 inhabitants). The Spanish governor, appointed by Cortes, spoke of the city’s million population. The city had many canals and lakes, so it was necessary to move often with the help of boats, like in modern Venice. Tenochtitlan himself was surrounded by countless dams and bridges protecting it from watercourses.
Tenochtitlan was divided into four quarters: Theopan, Moyotlan, Quepopan and Astakalco. In the middle of the city there was a ritual center surrounded by the protective wall of Coatepantli (Serpentine Wall). The city was built up with temples, schools, office buildings and houses. Structures were built on long piles because of loose soil.
City of Tenochtitlan: attractions
The city had many interesting architectural structures. The city of Tenochtitlan is decorated with:
The pyramidal temple reached a height of 45 meters. Its facade was turned strictly to the west. A wide double staircase, consisting of 114 steps, led to the top of the temple, where two smaller temples were located on the site. These are the temples of the two dominating gods: Tlaloc, the god of rain, and Uitzilopochtkli, the god of sun and war. Subsequently, after the Great Pyramid was destroyed, the stone blocks of the temple were used by the Spaniards to erect a Catholic cathedral, the largest in the whole of America. For its new history, the Great Pyramid has experienced several stages of excavation. During recent studies, many stone figurines and Tlaloc masks were discovered, however, archaeologists have not been able to find images of Whitzilopeschtli. According to Spanish chronicles, his images were made from a special material – dough and seeds, and, therefore, have long decomposed. It is currently open to the public and is located on Zocalo, on the right of the cathedral of Mexico City.
The palace complex consisted of a dozen stone single-story buildings. In appearance, the complex was a combination of external and internal courtyards, as well as premises for various purposes. Thus, in the buildings, in addition to the dwellings of the nobility and the premises of Tlaloc, there were rooms for the court, and meetings of the council. In total, the palace consisted of about three hundred rooms. The Spaniards wrote in their chronicles that it was easy to get lost on the territory of the palace complex. All entrances and exits to the palace complex, of which there were about 20, were connected to several patios. The palace was located outside the ritual center. The palace complex, like the ancient capital of America itself, had its own infrastructure. Under him were: an arsenal, a courthouse, a council building, a weaving workshop, where women sewed clothes for the emperor and his family, jewelers? metal craftsmen, and other artisans. About 500 servants took care of the animals and birds alone.
In addition to the Tlaloc Palace, on the territory of the city was located the Ehecatl Palace. The building was the back part of the main pyramid of the Aztec capital. The palace was huge and served as a treasury, and in combination with the temple. The palace of Ehecatl possessed not less number of halls and rooms, in comparison with the imperial residence. In the rooms of the palace could easily accommodate several thousand visitors. The most remarkable room of the palace was the walled-up treasury, created by the father of Montezuma II, and subsequently plundered by the Spaniards.
It was an amphitheater-shaped structure with rows of skulls set with teeth out. It was located Tzompantli near the main gate of the Aztec pyramid. At the end of the building there were two towers erected from building mixtures and concrete. At the top of the towers were located the pins on which the skulls of the fallen warriors were mounted. Also on the ritual square of the Aztec state capital was a building in the form of a tower. The entrance to it was guarded by two stone buildings in the form of heads with open mouths. Inside the building were kept knives for sacrifices, boilers and utensils for cooking the sacrificial meat, and other ceremonial utensils.
Aztec capital Tenochtitlan and the arrival of the Spaniards
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan became one of the most beautiful cities in the Western Hemisphere. Apparently, he was then one of the largest in the world: the population by the beginning of the XVI century, was almost 500 thousand people, – for those times a colossal figure. This majestic city managed to exist for about two centuries. The Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernan Cortes, who arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519, were amazed by the magnificence of the huge city.
According to one of the Spaniards who arrived on the island, “nobody has ever seen such a thing, have never heard of it, and even in a dream did not dream about something similar to what we then saw.” The Aztecs far from a peaceful people – military force subjugated most of the neighbors, but the Spaniards were met, surprisingly cordially, because according to an ancient legend, the bearded, fair-faced and fair-skinned god, expelled by the Indians, was to return in the year of the reed rod, and Cortes with his comrades took it for him. The policy of Cortez, however, led to conflict: an uprising broke out, and the Spaniards had to flee from Tenochtitlan on the night of July 1, later known as the Night of Sorrow. Defeated, Cortes did not think to give up. Having replenished the army with men and weapons, he launched a new attack on the Aztec capital – Mexico, as the Spaniards already called Tenochtitlan even on May 13, 1521, after a seventy-day siege the city fell. Thus ended the history of one city and the history of another began.