Tenochtitlan: Aztecs Under the Cathedral, Mexico City

The Aztecs dominated Mexico for over two hundred years and left a legacy for many more centuries than they existed. They created modern Mexico and called themselves Mexicas.

Tenochtitlan under the Cathedral, Mexico City

Remains of the Aztec Empire and their city Tenochtitlan continue to be discovered in the heart of Mexico City after archeologists started excavations in 1978.


Yesterday, I spent three hours in the archeological site and adjoining museum and it was not enough. While nowhere near as extensive as the famed Anthropology Museum, this archeological site holds the keys to the kingdom. Many Mexicans claim their identity from the Aztecs, and nationalism and its attendant symbols are rooted here.


For all the times I have visited Mexico City, I must confess that this was my first visit to Tenochtitlan. Bad me. I would recommend it as a starting point to anyone wanting to know more about Mexico culture, beliefs and identity.

Serpents are important Aztec symbols

Serpents are important Aztec symbols

The museum holds many important pieces that have been discovered over the years, most recently the wall of skull masks.  Skulls figure prominently in pre-Hispanic Mexican tradition, symbols of conquest, ancestor worship and the continuous journey of life to death.

Skull wall detail

Skull wall detail

Ceramic and stone sculpture of deities like the Chac Mool, Tlaloc and Eagle Warrior are housed here, too, along with trade jewelry and articles used for ritual sacrifice. There is a section on natural history, textiles and other art forms.


The site is different each time I view it above from the restaurant terrace at El Mayor (top floor, Libreria Porrua bookstore).  A tribute to INAH‘s dedication to restore Mexico’s pre-Hispanic history.


On this day, it was cloudy and overcast, the sky filled with rain clouds. My photos are shades of gray and muted colors as I continue to practice with the new Olympus mirrorless camera with Zuiko 12-40mm lens.


How to Enter Tenochtitlan: By foot, walk by the front of the Cathedral toward the Palacio Nacional. Make a left turn at the plaza with all the larger than life bronze sculptures by Javier Marin. Continue to the end where you will see an entry kiosk. Admission is 65 MXN pesos (about $4 USD at today’s exchange rate).  Wear a sun hat or take an umbrella for shade. No food or beverage allowed.

Three stone figures lay where they were found

Three stone figures lay where they were found

Two spaces left in the Textile Study Tour, February 3-11, 2015, featuring the ikat rebozos of Tenancingo de Degollado, Estado de Mexico. Contact me!


4 responses to “Tenochtitlan: Aztecs Under the Cathedral, Mexico City

  1. On my last trip to Mexico City I too finally made a point of visiting the Templo Mayor which I thought would be a let down after the Museum of Anthropology and Teotihuacan. Not at all–I enjoyed every minute of it. I just returned from Oaxaca where I visited Monte Alban, Mitla and the two great city museums. Mexico–what an amazing country! It’s good to have you back blogging again, Norma.

  2. Hola Norma: My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your dear Mom.
    I have visited and loved Mexico since the 70s. In 2007 I bought mi casa in San Miguel de Allende where I recently learned of your site, which I so enjoy. My friend Diana and I will be in Oaxaca the month of Feb to study Spanish and explore the area. Although I’ve been there a number of times, there is so much more to see and like you, I just purchased an Olympus mirrorless with the same lens and so look forward to getting to know it better. I hope we might meet at some convenient time if you are in Oaxaca when we are. Do let me know.
    Abrazos, K

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