Old Town of Mexico and Xochimilco (World Heritage)

According to zipcodesexplorer, Mexico City stands on the ruins of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán, which was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521. The ruins of the Templo Mayor are the most important relic from Aztec times. The center of the city shows a cross-section through the three hundred years of colonial times. Worth seeing are the huge Plaza de la Constitución, the Zócalo, with the cathedral and the national palace. The “floating gardens” of Xochimilco are testimony to the complex agricultural culture of the Aztecs.

Old City of Mexico and Xochimilco: Facts

Official title: historical center of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Cultural monument: Cultural monument: in the former bishopric and residence of the Spanish viceroy, Spanish colonial buildings on the ruins of Tenochtitlán such as the Palacio Nacional, the Catedral Metropolitana (originally 16th century) with Capilla de los Reyes with a gilded baroque altar, the Templo Mayor, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, the former Colegio de San Ildefonso and the Palacio de Bellas Artes
Continent: America
Country: Mexico
Location: Mexico City and south of Mexico City
Appointment: 1987
Meaning: Spanish colonial history on the ruins of the Aztec empire; Xochimilco is a testament to the complex Aztec farming culture

Old Town of Mexico and Xochimilco: History

around 1325 Foundation of Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec Empire
1519 Landing of the Spaniards near what is now Veracruz
August 13, 1521 Destruction of Tenochtitlán
1590 Completion of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo
1775 Establishment of the Nacional Monte de Piedad, the oldest pawn shop in Latin America
1810 under Miguel Hidalgo uprising against the Spanish colonial rulers
1813 Completion of the cathedral
1821 Mexican independence begins with the Treaty of Cordoba
1845-48 Mexican-American War
1857-61 Mexican Civil War
06/07/1863 Entry of a French invading army into Mexico City
1864 Coronation of Maximilian von Habsburg as Mexican Emperor
06/19/1867 Execution of Maximilian I.
1900 in the construction of sewers, discovery of the Templo Mayor
1917 Discovery of the buried Cuicuilco pyramid
1929-51 In the Palacio Nacional production of the murals by Diego Rivera
1978 During excavations, a stone disk weighing around 8 tons was found with the image of the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui

Where it all ended and began

The Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, had not existed for less than two centuries when it was conquered and destroyed by the Spaniards under the leadership of Hernán Cortés. In its sacred center, on the ruins of the Indian pyramids and temples, the construction of the capital of the province of New Spain, the Ciudad de México, today one of the largest metropolises in the world, began on the express order of Cortés. With hundreds of significant architectural monuments, its center offers a cross-section of the country’s three hundred year colonial history and also includes the former Aztec ceremonial center with the ruins of the Templo Mayor.

Plaza de la Constitución is the name of the huge central square, which lacks fountains, statues and decorative flower arrangements and which impresses with its enormous emptiness. In the middle of what is probably the largest square in the world with a side length of 240 meters, the lonely Mexican flag flies. Dominating the north side is the Catedral Metropolitana, the largest church on the American continent, which took almost a quarter of a century to complete. The baroque splendor of the main nave and the side chapels is now covered by supporting scaffolding: for years the structure has been slightly inclined and threatens to sink into the swampy subsoil.

The facade of the episcopal sacraments next to the cathedral, the Sagrario Metropolitano, is an outstanding example of the playful Mexican baroque style with its lavish decoration. Opposite are the remains of the Aztec temple district, where ritual human sacrifices once took place.

The east side of the square is determined by the front of the National Palace, the former official residence of the Spanish viceroys. The building made of reddish volcanic stone with more than ten patios originally only had two floors – the third was only added in this century. The monumental wall paintings by Diego Rivera in the staircase and on the surrounding gallery, which are dedicated to Mexican history and the legend of the god-king Quetzalcêatl, are worth seeing. The venerable town hall stands on the south side of the plaza; the entire west side is taken up by the Portales de los Mercadores, the arcades of the merchants.

The village of Xochimilco, located on the southern edge of Mexico City, is called »place of flower fields« and is famous for its »floating gardens«, which were once particularly important for the supply of the rapidly growing Tenochtitlán. Due to a lack of arable land, smaller rafts of reeds and wicker were made and filled with mud and fertile soil and planted. In the shallow water level of the Xochimilco lagoon, the roots soon reached the bottom of the lake and ensured their “anchoring”. In the course of time, natural islands were formed in this way, and the permanent inflow of water and fertilization with fertile soil ensured up to seven rich harvests a year. Now the small islands have grown together, and wide canals run through fertile and flourishing land.

Xochimilco is now a popular excursion destination, especially on weekends: Foreign visitors and locals alike can be steered across the shimmering green waterways in small, sun-roofed, flower-adorned boats painted in bright colors. On some that slide by, mariachi bands play or marimba players demonstrate their musical skills, while others sell fruit juices and Mexican specialties such as burritos filled with beans, cheese or meat and chalupas filled with spicy sausage.

Old Town of Mexico and Xochimilco