Last updated


Tenochtitlan Glyph ZP.svg
Model of the temple district of Tenochtitlan at the National Museum of Anthropology
Common languages Classical Nahuatl
Mexica religion
Historical era Pre-Columbian
 Formation of the Aztec Empire
Succeeded by
Aztec Empire Aztec Triple Alliance.png

Tenochtitlan (Nahuatl languages : Tenōchtitlanpronounced  [tenoːt͡ʃˈtit͡ɬan] ; Spanish : Tenochtitlán), also known as Mexica-Tenochtitlan (Nahuatl languages : Mēxihco Tenōchtitlanpronounced  [meːˈʃiʔko tenoːt͡ʃˈtit͡ɬan] ; Spanish : México-Tenochtitlán), was a large Mexica altepetl in what is now the historic center of Mexico City. The exact date of the founding of the city is unclear. The date 13 March 1325 was chosen in 1925 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the city. [1] The city was built on an island in what was then Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The city was the capital of the expanding Aztec Empire in the 15th century [2] until it was captured by the Spanish in 1521.


At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlan are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

Tenochtitlan was one of two Mexica āltēpetl (city-states or polities) on the island, the other being Tlatelolco.


Traditionally, the name Tenochtitlan was thought to come from Nahuatl tetl [ˈtetɬ] ("rock") and nōchtli [ˈnoːtʃtɬi] ("prickly pear") and is often thought to mean, "Among the prickly pears [growing among] rocks". However, one attestation in the late 16th-century manuscript known as "the Bancroft dialogues" suggest the second vowel was short, so that the true etymology remains uncertain. [3]


The western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco. Tenochtitlan
is the southern part of the main island (under the red line). The northern part is Tlatelolco
. Tenochtitlan.jpg
The western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco. Tenochtitlan is the southern part of the main island (under the red line). The northern part is Tlatelolco .

Tenochtitlan covered an estimated 8 to 13.5 km2 (3.1 to 5.2 sq mi), situated on the western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco.

At the time of Spanish conquests, Mexico City comprised both Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco . The city extended from north to south, from the north border of Tlatelolco to the swamps, which by that time were gradually disappearing to the west; the city ended more or less at the present location of Avenida Bucareli .

The city was connected to the mainland by bridges and causeways leading to the north, south, and west. The causeways were interrupted by bridges that allowed canoes and other water traffic to pass freely. The bridges could be pulled away, if necessary, to defend the city. The city was interlaced with a series of canals, so that all sections of the city could be visited either on foot or via canoe.

Lake Texcoco was the largest of five interconnected lakes. Since it formed in an endorheic basin, Lake Texcoco was brackish. During the reign of Moctezuma I, the "levee of Nezahualcoyotl" was constructed, reputedly designed by Nezahualcoyotl . Estimated to be 12 to 16 km (7.5 to 9.9 mi) in length, the levee was completed circa 1453. The levee kept fresh spring-fed water in the waters around Tenochtitlan and kept the brackish waters beyond the dike, to the east.

Two double aqueducts, each more than 4 km (2.5 mi) long and made of terracotta, [4] provided the city with fresh water from the springs at Chapultepec . This was intended mainly for cleaning and washing. For drinking, water from mountain springs was preferred. Most of the population liked to bathe twice a day; Moctezuma was said to take four baths a day. According to the context of Aztec culture in literature, the soap that they most likely used was the root of a plant called copalxocotl ( Saponaria americana), [5] and to clean their clothes they used the root of metl ( Agave americana ). Also, the upper classes and pregnant women washed themselves in a temāzcalli , similar to a sauna bath, which is still used in the south of Mexico. This was also popular in other Mesoamerican cultures.

City plans

When we saw so many cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land we were amazed and said that it was like the enchantments (...) on account of the great towers and cues and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream? (...) I do not know how to describe it, seeing things as we did that had never been heard of or seen before, not even dreamed about.

Bernal Díaz del Castillo, The Conquest of New Spain [6]

The city was divided into four zones, or camps; each camp was divided into 20 districts ( calpullis , Nahuatl calpōlli); and each calpulli, or 'big house', was crossed by streets or tlaxilcalli. There were three main streets that crossed the city, each leading to one of the three causeways to the mainland of Tepeyac, Iztapalapa, and Tlacopan. [7] Bernal Díaz del Castillo reported that they were wide enough for ten horses. Surrounding the raised causeways were artificial floating gardens with canal waterways and gardens of plants, shrubs, and trees. [8] The calpullis were divided by channels used for transportation, with wood bridges that were removed at night.

The earliest European images of the city were woodcuts published in Augsburg around 1522. [9]


The Tlatelolco Marketplace as depicted at The Field Museum, Chicago Tlatelolco Marketplace.JPG
The Tlatelolco Marketplace as depicted at The Field Museum, Chicago

Each calpulli (from Classical Nahuatl calpōlli, Nahuatl pronunciation: [kaɬˈpoːlːi], meaning "large house") had its own tiyanquiztli (marketplace), but there was also a main marketplace in Tlatelolco – Tenochtitlan's sister city. Cortés estimated it was twice the size of the city of Salamanca with about 60,000 people trading daily. Bernardino de Sahagún provides a more conservative population estimate of 20,000 on ordinary days and 40,000 on feast days. There were also specialized markets in the other central Mexican cities.

Public buildings

A picture of Tenochtitlan and a model of the Templo Mayor at the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico City Reconstruction of Tenochtitlan2006.jpg
A picture of Tenochtitlan and a model of the Templo Mayor at the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico City

In the center of the city were the public buildings, temples, and palaces. Inside a walled square, 500 meters to a side, was the ceremonial center. There were about 45 public buildings, including: the Templo Mayor, which was dedicated to the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli and the Rain God Tlaloc; the temple of Quetzalcoatl; the tlachtli (ball game court) with the tzompantli or rack of skulls; the Sun Temple, which was dedicated to Tonatiuh; the Eagle's House, which was associated with warriors and the ancient power of rulers; the platforms for the gladiatorial sacrifice; and some minor temples. [10]

Outside was the palace of Moctezuma with 100 rooms, each with its own bath, for the lords and ambassadors of allies and conquered people. Also located nearby was the cuicalli, or house of the songs, and the calmecac . [11]

The city had great symmetry. All constructions had to be approved by the calmimilocatl, a functionary in charge of the city planning.

Palaces of Moctezuma II

The palace of Moctezuma II also had two houses or zoos, one for birds of prey and another for other birds, reptiles, and mammals. About 300 people were dedicated to the care of the animals.

There was also a botanical garden and an aquarium. The aquarium had ten ponds of salt water and ten ponds of fresh water, containing various fish and aquatic birds. Places like this also existed in Texcoco, Chapultepec, Huaxtepec (now called Oaxtepec), and Texcotzingo. [12]

Social classes

National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Reconstruction of an Aztec market in Tenochtitlan. Rekonstruktion Aztekenmarkt 1.jpg
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Reconstruction of an Aztec market in Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan can be considered the most complex society in Mesoamerica in regard to social stratification. The complex system involved many social classes. The macehualtin were commoners who lived outside the island city of Tenochtitlan. The pipiltin were noblemen who were relatives of leaders and former leaders, and lived in the confines of the island. Cuauhipiltin, or eagle nobles, were commoners who impressed the nobles with their martial prowess, and were treated as nobles. [7] Teteuctin were the highest class, rulers of various parts of the empire, including the king. Tlacohtin were individuals who chose to enslave themselves to pay back a debt; they were not slaves forever and were not treated as badly as typical slaves seen in other ancient civilizations worldwide. Finally, the pochteca were merchants who traveled all of Mesoamerica trading. The membership of this class was based on heredity. Pochteca could become very rich because they did not pay taxes, but they had to sponsor the ritual feast of Xocotl Huetzi from the wealth that they obtained from their trade expeditions.

Status was displayed by location and type of house where a person lived. Ordinary people lived in houses made of reeds plastered with mud and roofed with thatch. People who were better off had houses of adobe brick with flat roofs. [7] The wealthy had houses of stone masonry with flat roofs. They most likely made up the house complexes that were arranged around the inner court. The higher officials in Tenochtitlan lived in the great palace complexes that made up the city.

Adding even more complexity to Aztec social stratification was the calpolli. Calpolli, meaning ‘big house’ is a group of families related by either kinship or proximity. These groups consist of both elite members of Aztec society and commoners. Elites provided commoners with arable land and nonagricultural occupations, and commoners performed services for chiefs and gave tribute. [13]


A Mexico City statue commemorating the foundation of Tenochtitlan Statue of Foundation of Tenochtitlan.jpg
A Mexico City statue commemorating the foundation of Tenochtitlan

Tenochtitlan was the capital of the Mexican civilization of the Mexica people, founded in 1325. The state religion of the Mexica civilization awaited the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy: the wandering tribes would find the destined site for a great city whose location would be signaled by an eagle with a snake in its beak perched atop a cactus (Opuntia).

The Mexica saw this vision on what was then a small swampy island in Lake Texcoco, a vision that is now immortalized in Mexico's coat of arms and on the Mexican flag. Not deterred by the unfavourable terrain, they set about building their city, using the chinampa system (misnamed as "floating gardens") for agriculture and to dry and expand the island.

A thriving culture developed, and the Mexica civilization came to dominate other tribes around Mexico. The small natural island was perpetually enlarged as Tenochtitlan grew to become the largest and most powerful city in Mesoamerica. Commercial routes were developed that brought goods from places as far as the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and perhaps even the Inca Empire. [14]

After a flood of Lake Texcoco, the city was rebuilt under the rule of Ahuitzotl in a style that made it one of the grandest ever in Mesoamerica.

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Tenochtitlan on 8 November 1519. Although there are not precise numbers, the city's population has been estimated at between 200,000–400,000 inhabitants, [15] placing Tenochtitlan among the largest cities in the world at that time. [16] Compared to the cities of Europe, only Paris, Venice and Constantinople might have rivaled it. It was five times the size of the London of Henry VIII. [7] In a letter to the Spanish king, Cortés wrote that Tenochtitlan was as large as Seville or Córdoba. Cortes' men were in awe at the sight of the splendid city and many wondered if they were dreaming. [17]

Although some popular sources put the number as high as 350,000, [18] the most common estimates of the population are of over 200,000 people. One of the few comprehensive academic surveys of Mesoamerican city and town sizes arrived at a population of 212,500 living on 13.5 km2 (5.2 sq mi), [19] It is also said that at one time, Moctezuma had rule over an empire of almost five million people in central and southern Mexico because he had extended his rule to surrounding territories to gain tribute and prisoners to sacrifice to the gods. [8]

Invasion era

The Conquest of Tenochtitlan The Conquest of Tenochtitlan.jpg
The Conquest of Tenochtitlan

When Cortés and his men invaded Tenochtitlan, Moctezuma II chose to welcome Cortés as an ambassador rather than risk a war which might quickly be joined by aggrieved indigenous people.

As Cortés approached Tenochtitlan, the Tenochcah celebrated Toxcatl. At this event the most prominent warriors of altepetl [ clarification needed ] would dance in front of a huge statue of Huitzilopochtli. The Spanish leader, Pedro de Alvarado, who was left in charge, worried that the natives planned a surprise attack. He captured three natives and tortured them until they said that this[ clarification needed ] was indeed true. During the festival, the Spaniards came heavily armed and closed off every exit from the courtyard so that no one would escape. This happened during their last days in Tenochtitlan. [20]

Nobles lined each side of the city's main causeway, which extended about a league. Walking down the center came Moctezuma II, with two lords at his side, one his brother, the ruler of Iztapalapa. Cortés dismounted and was greeted by the ruler and his lords, but forbidden to touch him. Cortés gave him a necklace of crystals, placing it over his neck. [21]

Mexica pyramid of Ehecatl in the Metro Pino Suarez station, Mexico City Subway. Adoratorio de Ehecatl Metro Pino Suarez.jpg
Mexica pyramid of Ehecatl in the Metro Pino Suárez station, Mexico City Subway.

They were then brought to a large house that would serve as their home for their stay in the city. Once they were settled, Moctezuma himself sat down and spoke with Cortés. The great ruler declared that anything that they needed would be theirs to have. [22] He was thrilled to have visitors of such stature. Although the Spaniards were seeking gold, Moctezuma expressed that he had very little of the sort, but all of it was to be given to Cortés if he desired it. [23]

Since arriving in Tenochtitlan, Cortés faced early trouble. Leaving a post in Vera Cruz, the officer left in charge received a letter from Qualpopoca, the leader of Nueva Almería, asking to become a vassal of the Spaniards. He requested that officials be sent to him so that he could confirm his submission. To reach the province, the officers would have to travel through hostile land. The officer in charge of Vera Cruz decided to send four officers to meet with Qualpopoca. [24]

When they arrived, they were captured and two were killed, the other two escaping through the woods. Upon their return to Vera Cruz, the officer in charge was infuriated, and led troops to storm Almería. Here they learned that Moctezuma was supposedly the one who ordered the officers executed. [25] Back in Tenochtitlan, Cortés detained Moctezuma and questioned him. [26] Though no serious conclusions were reached, this started the relationship between Moctezuma and the Spaniards on a bad note. [27]

Cortés subsequently besieged Tenochtitlan for over 90 days, causing a famine; [8] directed the systematic destruction and leveling of the city; [28] and began its rebuilding, despite opposition, with a central area designated for Spanish use (the traza). The outer Indian section, now dubbed San Juan Tenochtitlan, continued to be governed by the previous indigenous elite and was divided into the same subdivisions as before. [29] While the people of Tenochtitlan were celebrating the over 60 Spaniards who were captured, sacrificed while living and then eaten by the locals. The skins, feet and hands of captured Spaniards were sent around the country as a warning to other tribes. [ clarification needed ]

The people of Tenochtitlan were exposed to diseases. Symptoms were often delayed for up to ten days, when the infection would spread throughout the body, causing sores, pain, and high fever. People were weak to the point that they could not move, nor obtain food and water. Burial of the dead become difficult to impossible, due to the pervasiveness of the people's illness. The people of Tenochtitlan began to starve and weaken. The death toll rose steadily over the course of the next 60 days. [30] [ when? ]

Colonial era

Districts of Tenochtitlan overlaid on a map of modern streets of Mexico City, with the traza
shown in gray Barrios Tenochtitlan OSM2.png
Districts of Tenochtitlan overlaid on a map of modern streets of Mexico City, with the traza shown in gray

Cortés founded the Spanish capital of Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. Despite the extensive damage to the built environment, the site retained symbolic power and legitimacy as the capital of the Aztec empire, which Cortés sought to appropriate. For a time this ciudad de españoles, the highest rank in the Spanish hierarchy of settlement designation, was called Mexico–Tenochtitlan. Charles Gibson devotes the final chapter of his classic work, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule, to what he called "The City," [31] with later historians building on his work. [32] The Spaniards established a cabildo or town council, which had jurisdiction over the Spanish residents. The Spanish established a Europeans-only zone in the center of the city, an area of 13 blocks in each direction of the central plaza, which was the traza. Although many native residents died during the siege of Tenochtitlan, the indigenous still had a strong presence in the city, and were settled in two main areas of the island, designated San Juan Tenochtitlan and Santiago Tlatelolco, each with a municipal council that functioned the entire colonial period. San Juan Tenochtitlan was a Spanish administrative creation, which amalgamated four indigenous sections, with each losing territory to the Spanish traza. The Spanish laid out the streets of the traza in a checker board pattern, with straight streets and plazas at intervals, whereas the indigenous portions of the city were irregular in layout and built of modest materials. In the colonial period both San Juan Tenochtitlan and Santiago Tlatelolco retained jurisdiction over settlements on the mainland that they could draw on for labor and tribute demanded by the Spanish, but increasingly those subordinate settlements (sujetos) were able to gain their autonomy with their own rulers and separate relationship with the Spanish rulers. [33] Concern about the health of the indigenous population in early post-conquest Mexico–Tenochtitlan led to the founding of a royal hospital for indigenous residents. [34]

There are a number of colonial-era pictorial manuscripts dealing with Tenochtitlan–Tlatelolco, which shed light on litigation between Spaniards and indigenous over property. [35] An account with information about the war of Tenochtitlan against its neighbor Tlatelolco in 1473 and the Spanish conquest in 1521 is the Anales de Mexico y Tlatelolco, 1473, 1521–22. [36] Anthropologist Susan Kellogg has studied colonial-era inheritance patterns of Nahuas in Mexico City, using Nahuatl- and Spanish-language testaments. [37]


The city was the place of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Conquista-de-Tenochtitlan-Mexico.jpg
The city was the place of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital.
Templo Mayor of Mexico-Tenochtitlan ruins. Templo Mayor 2015 001.jpg
Templo Mayor of Mexico-Tenochtitlan ruins.
The ruins of the Templo Mayor Templo Mayor 2007.JPG
The ruins of the Templo Mayor
Fundacion de Mexico (The foundation of Mexico) - Tenochtitlan by Roberto Cueva del Rio Fundacion Tenochtitlan.jpg
Fundación de México (The foundation of Mexico) – Tenochtitlán by Roberto Cueva del Río

Tenochtitlan's main temple complex, the Templo Mayor, was dismantled and the central district of the Spanish colonial city was constructed on top of it. The great temple was destroyed by the Spanish during the construction of a cathedral. The location of the Templo Mayor was rediscovered in the early 20th century, but major excavations did not take place until 1978–1982, after utility workers came across a massive stone disc depicting the nude dismembered body of the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui. The disc is 3.25 meters (10 ft 8 in) in diameter, and is held at the Templo Mayor Museum. [38]

The ruins, constructed over seven periods, were built on top of each other. The resulting weight of the structures caused them to sink into the sediment of Lake Texcoco; the ruins now rest at an angle instead of horizontally.

Mexico City's Zócalo, the Plaza de la Constitución, is located at the site of Tenochtitlan's original central plaza and market, and many of the original calzadas still correspond to modern city streets. The Aztec calendar stone was located in the ruins. This stone is 4 meters (13 ft 1 in) in diameter and weighs over 20 short tons (17.9 long tons; 18.1 metric tons). It was once located half-way up the great pyramid. This sculpture was carved around 1470 under the rule of King Axayacatl, the predecessor of Tizoc, and is said to tell the history of the Mexicas and to prophesy the future. [39]

In August 1987, archaeologists discovered a mix of 1,789 human bones five meters (16 ft 5 in) below street level in Mexico City. [40] The burial dates back to the 1480s, ie before Cortez, and lies at the foot of the main temple in the sacred ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital. The bones are from children, teenagers and adults. A complete skeleton of a young woman was also found at the site. [40]

See also


    Related Research Articles

    Cuitláhuac 10Th Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan

    Cuitláhuac or Cuitláhuac was the 10th tlatoani (ruler) of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan for 80 days during the year Two Flint (1520). He is credited with leading the Mexica resistance to the Spanish invasion, following the death of his kinsman Moctezuma II.

    Cuauhtémoc Final tlatoani of the Aztec Empire in Tenochtitlán

    Cuauhtémoc was the Aztec ruler (tlatoani) of Tenochtitlan from 1520 to 1521, making him the last Aztec Emperor. The name Cuauhtemōc means "one who has descended like an eagle", and is commonly rendered in English as "Descending Eagle", as in the moment when an eagle folds its wings and plummets down to strike its prey. This is a name that implies aggressiveness and determination.

    Moctezuma I Hueyi Tlatoani

    Moctezuma I, also known as Moteuczomatzin Ilhuicamina, Huehuemoteuczoma or Montezuma I, was the second Aztec emperor and fifth king of Tenochtitlan. During his reign, the Aztec Empire was consolidated, major expansion was undertaken, and Tenochtitlan started becoming the dominant partner of the Aztec Triple Alliance. Often mistaken for his popular descendant, Moctezuma II, Moctezuma I greatly contributed to the famed Aztec Empire that thrived until Spanish arrival, and he ruled over a period of peace from 1440 to 1453. Moctezuma brought social, economical, and political reform to strengthen Aztec rule, and Tenochititlan benefited from relations with other tribes.

    Moctezuma II Ninth tlatoani of the Aztec Empire in Tenochtitlán

    Moctezuma II, variant spellings include Motecuhzomatzin, Montezuma, Moteuczoma, Motecuhzoma, Motēuczōmah, Muteczuma, and referred to in full by early Nahuatl texts as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of the Aztec Empire, reigning from 1502 to 1520. The first contact between the indigenous civilizations of Mesoamerica and Europeans took place during his reign, and he was killed during the initial stages of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, when conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men fought to take over the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán.

    Aztecs Ethnic group of central Mexico and its civilization

    The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states (altepetl), some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires. The Aztec Empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427: Tenochtitlan, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca; Texcoco; and Tlacopan, previously part of the Tepanec empire, whose dominant power was Azcapotzalco. Although the term Aztecs is often narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is also broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era (1521–1821). The definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion ever since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early nineteenth century.

    Texcoco (altepetl) pre-Columbian city-state

    Texcoco was a major Acolhua altepetl (city-state) in the central Mexican plateau region of Mesoamerica during the Late Postclassic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology. It was situated on the eastern bank of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico, to the northeast of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. The site of pre-Columbian Texcoco is now subsumed by the modern Mexican municipio of Texcoco and its major settlement, the city formally known as Texcoco de Mora. It also lies within the greater metropolitan area of Mexico City.

    Nezahualcoyotl (tlatoani) Tlatoani of Texcoco

    Nezahualcoyotl, meaning "Coyote in fast" or "Coyote who fasts") was a philosopher, warrior, architect, poet and ruler (tlatoani) of the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico. Unlike other high-profile Mexican figures from the century preceding Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, Nezahualcoyotl was not Mexica; his people were the Acolhua, another Nahuan people settled in the eastern part of the Valley of Mexico, settling on the eastern side of Lake Texcoco.

    Nahuas group of indigenous people from Mexico and El Salvador

    The Nahuas are a group of indigenous people of Mexico and El Salvador, historically also present in parts of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The Nahuas comprise the largest indigenous group in Mexico and second largest group in El Salvador. The Aztec and Toltec cultures were of Nahua ethnicity.


    Cempoala or Zempoala is an important Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the Úrsulo Galván Municipality, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. The site was inhabited mainly by Totonacs, Chinantecas and Zapotecs. It was one of the most important Totonac settlements during the postclassical Mesoamerican period and the capital of the kingdom of Totonacapan. It is located one kilometer from the shore of the Actopan River and six kilometres from the coast.

    Fall of Tenochtitlan siege

    The Fall of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, was a decisive event in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.

    <i>Templo Mayor</i> Main Temple of Tenochtitlan

    The Templo Mayor was the main temple of the Mexica peoples in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica. The temple was called the Huēyi Teōcalli[we:ˈi teoːˈkali] in the Nahuatl language. It was dedicated simultaneously to Huitzilopochtli, god of war, and Tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture, each of which had a shrine at the top of the pyramid with separate staircases. The spire in the center of the adjacent image was devoted to Quetzalcoatl in his form as the wind god, Ehecatl. The Great Temple devoted to Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, measuring approximately 100 by 80 m at its base, dominated the Sacred Precinct. Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 to make way for the new cathedral.

    Aztec Empire Imperial alliance of city states located in central Mexico during the 15th and 16th centuries

    The Aztec Empire, or the Triple Alliance, was an alliance of three Nahua altepetl city-states: Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. These three city-states ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico from 1428 until the combined forces of the Spanish conquistadores and their native allies under Hernán Cortés defeated them in 1521.

    La Noche Triste Event during the Conquest of Mexico

    La Noche Triste was an important event during the Spanish conquest of Mexico, wherein Hernán Cortés, his army of Spanish conquistadors, and their native allies were driven out of the Aztec capital at Tenochtitlan.

    History of the Aztecs aspect of history

    The Aztecs were a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people of central Mexico in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. They called themselves Mēxihcah.

    Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire 16th-century Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica

    The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, also known as the Conquest of Mexico (1519–21), was one of the primary events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. There are multiple 16th-century narratives of the events by Spanish conquerors, their indigenous allies, and the defeated Aztecs. It was not solely a contest between a small contingent of Spaniards defeating the Aztec Empire but rather the creation of a coalition of Spanish invaders with tributaries to the Aztecs, and most especially the Aztecs' indigenous enemies and rivals. They combined forces to defeat the Mexica of Tenochtitlan over a two-year period. For the Spanish, the expedition to Mexico was part of a project of Spanish colonization of the New World after twenty-five years of permanent Spanish settlement and further exploration in the Caribbean.

    Codex Azcatitlan Aztec codex in the collection of the National Library of France

    The Codex Azcatitlan is an Aztec codex detailing the history of the Mexica and their migration journey from Aztlán to the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The exact date when the codex was produced is unknown, but scholars speculate it was crafted some time between the mid-16th and 17th centuries. The name of this important Mexica pictorial manuscript was suggested by its first editor, Robert H. Barlow, who erroneously interpreted the anthill on page 2 as the glyph for “Aztlán.” In the Bibliothèque nationale de France, where it is housed, it is known as Histoire mexicaine, [Manuscrit] Mexicain 59–64.

    Mexica indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico

    The Mexica, or Mexicas, are a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico who were the rulers of the Aztec Empire. They were the last Nahua-speaking immigrants to enter the Basin of Mexico after the Toltec decline. This group was also known as the Culhua-Mexica in recognition of its kinship alliance with the neighboring Culhua, descendants of the revered Toltecs, who occupied the Toltec capital of Tula from the tenth through twelfth centuries. The Mexica were additionally referred to as the "Tenochca", a term associated with the name of their altepetl (city-state), Tenochtitlan, and Tenochtitlan's founding leader, Tenoch. The Mexica established Mexico Tenochtitlan, a settlement on an island in Lake Texcoco. A dissident group in Mexico-Tenochtitlan separated and founded the settlement of Mexico-Tlatelolco with its own dynastic lineage.

    Tlatelolco (altepetl) pre-Columban city (altepetl) in Mexico

    Tlatelolco was a prehispanic altepetl or city-state, in the Valley of Mexico. Its inhabitants were known as Tlatelolca. The Tlatelolca were a part of the Mexica, a Nahuatl-speaking people who arrived in what is now central Mexico in the 13th century. The Mexica settled on an island in Lake Texcoco, founding the altepetl of Mexico-Tenochtitlan on the southern portion of the island. In 1337, a group of dissident Mexica broke away from the Tenochca leadership in Tenochtitlan and founded Mexico-Tlatelolco on the northern portion of the island. Tenochtitlan was closely tied with its sister city, which was largely dependent on the market of Tlatelolco, the most important site of commerce in the area.

    Tlapalizquixochtzin was an Aztec noblewoman and Queen regnant of the Aztec city of Ecatepec. She was also a Queen consort or Empress of Tenochtitlan.

    Third letter of Hernán Cortés to the Emperor Charles V letter in which Hernán Cortés reports his travels to Mexico to emperor Carlos I of Spain

    The Third Letter of Relation of Hernán Cortés to the Emperor Carlos V is one of five letters written by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés to the emperor Carlos V, sent with the intention of informing Carlos V of the territories discovered and their conquest; it was signed on 15 May 1522 in Coyoacán. The letter describes part of the expedition to the New World, the conquest of Tenochtitlán and the destruction of the city, covering the events from 1520 until the final conquests in 1522.


    1. Castillo Ledon, Luis (1925). La Fundacion de la Ciudad de México 1325-1925 Editorial CVLTURA p 5, 55, 56
    2. "Tenochtitlán, la capital azteca". National Geographic (in Spanish) (54). p. 76. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
    3. Frances Karttunen (1983) An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl p.225, Texas linguistic series, University of Texas, Austin ISBN   978-0-2927-0365-0; OCLC   230535203
    4. Cortés, H.
    5. Aguilar-Moreno, Manuel (2006). Handbook to life in the Aztec world. Infobase Publishing. p. 368. ISBN   978-0-8160-5673-6 . Retrieved 2 November 2010.
    6. Bernal Diaz Del Castillo, "The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico 1517 1521", Edited by Genaro Garcia, Translated with an Introduction and Notes?, pp. 269–, A. P. Maudslay, first pub 1928
    7. 1 2 3 4 Coe, M. 2008, p. 193.
    8. 1 2 3 Walker, C. 1980, p. 162.
    9. "Newspaper About the Country that the Spaniards Found in 1521, Called Yucatan". World Digital Library. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
    10. Coe, M. 2008, p. 193
    11. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 87.
    12. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 89.
    13. Coe, M. 2008, pp. 194–196.
    14. Blainey, G. A Very Short History of the World, 2007
    15. The Native population of the Americas in 1492. Denevan, William M. (2nd ed.). Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. 1992. ISBN   9780299134334. OCLC   648253221.CS1 maint: others (link)
    16. Levy, Buddy (2008). Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs. Bantam Books. p. 106. ISBN   978-0553384710.
    17. Butterworth, Douglas; Chance, John K. (1981). Latin American urbanization. CUP Archive. p. 2. ISBN   978-0-521-28175-1.
    18. Stannard, D. (1992)
    19. Smith (2005), p. 411
    20. Townsend, Camilla. 2006. 102–103.
    21. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 69.
    22. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 71.
    23. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 70.
    24. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 72.
    25. Cortés, Hernan. 1520, p. 73.
    26. Cortés, H. 1520, p. 77.
    27. Stannard, D. 1992, 214.
    28. "The Colonial Spanish-American City: Urban Life in the Age of Atlantic Capitalism", Jay Kinsbruner, University of Texas Press, 2005, p. 20, ISBN   0-292-70668-5
    29. Stannard, D. 1992, 109.
    30. Townsend, Camilla. 2006, 109–110.
    31. Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1964.
    32. Barbara Munday, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City. Austin: University of Texas Press 2016. ISBN   978-1477317136
    33. Gibson, Aztecs Under Spanish Rule, pp. 368–377.
    34. Leiby, John S. (1995). "The Royal Indian Hospital of Mexico City, 1553–1680". The Historian. 57 (3): 573–580. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1995.tb02021.x. JSTOR   24451466.
    35. Glass, John B. in collaboration with Donald Robertson. "A Census of Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts". article 23, Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources Part 3; Handbook of Middle American Indians. University of Texas Press 1975, census #209, 210 p. 166-67. ISBN   0-292-70154-3
    36. Glass and Robertson. "A Census of Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts". article 23, census #211 p. 167. ISBN   0-292-70154-3
    37. Susan Kellogg, Law and the Transformation of Aztec Culture, 1500-1700. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1995.
    38. Snow, Dean R. (2010). Archaeology of Native North America. Boston: Prentice Hall. ISBN   978-0-13-615686-4.
    39. Walker, p. 162–167
    40. 1 2 A.R Williams (29 August 2012). "Venerable Bones". National Geographic.


    Further reading

    • Calnek, Edward. "Settlement Pattern and Chinampa Agriculture at Tenochtitlan." American Antiquity 37.1. (1973) 190–95.
    • Calnek, Edward. "El sistema de mercado en Tenochtitlan." In Economía política e ideología en el México prehispánico. Eds. Pedro Carrasco and Johanna Broda, pp. 97–114. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones Superiores del Instituto de Antropología e Historia, 1978.
    • Calnek, Edward. "Tenochtitlan in the Early Colonial Period." Acts of the XLII International Congress of Americanists 8, 1976 (1979) 35–40.
    • Calnek, Edward. "Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco: the Natural History of a City." In El Urbanismo en Mesoamérica/Urbanism in Mesoamerica, vol. 1. edited by W.T. Sanders et al., 149–202. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia; University Park: Pennsylvania State University 2003.
    • Gibson, Charles. The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1964. ISBN   978-0804709125
    • Molina Montes, Augusto F. (December 1980). "The building of Tenochtitlan". National Geographic . Vol. 158 no. 6. pp. 753–764. ISSN   0027-9358. OCLC   643483454.
    • Mundy, Barbara E. "Mapping the Aztec Capital: the 1524 Nuremberg Map of Tenochtitlan, Its Sources and Meanings." Imago Mundi 50 (1998), 1–22.
    • Mundy, Barbara E. "Place-Names in Mexico-Tenochtitlan." Ethnohistory 61 (2) Spring 2014. 329–355.
    • Mundy, Barbara E. The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City. Austin: University of Texas Press 2015. ISBN   978-1477317136
    • Toussaint, Manuel, Federico Gómez de Orozco, and Justino Fernández, Planos de la Ciudad de México. XVI Congreso Internacional de Planificación y de la Habitación. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México 1938.
    • Townsend, Richard F. State and Cosmos in the Art of Tenochtitlan. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archeology 20. Washington D.C., Dumbarton Oaks 1979.

    19°26′06″N99°07′53″W / 19.43500°N 99.13139°W Coordinates: 19°26′06″N99°07′53″W / 19.43500°N 99.13139°W