We begin our tour of central Mexico at Mexico City’s main square or Zócalo. It was also the center of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán which was destroyed by the Spanish invaders in 1521.
In the National Palace, we admire a mural by Diego Rivera illustrating the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán before the Spanish conquest. The central figure is Montezuma II, the Aztec ruler in 1519.
Stage 2 of the Great Temple of the Aztecs. The Great Temple was topped by twin temples – one to the sun god Huitzilopochtli and the other to the rain god Tlaloc. There were seven stages to the Great Temple by 1521, when it was razed by the Spanish. It was rediscovered in downtown Mexico City in 1978.
The chacmool alter in front of the temple of Tlaloc. It retains its original paint, and was a place for human sacrifices.
Gigantic statue of the Aztec earth goddess Tlaltecuhtli found near the base of the Great Temple in downtown Mexico City in 2006.
Native dancers entertain our group in front of the cathedral on Mexico City’s Zócalo.
Ruins of the central temple of Tlatelolco, the second city of the Aztecs, are preserved in Mexico City. It was also demolished by the Spanish.
We travel to Tula the capital of the Toltecs.
Giant atlantes supported a temple atop Pyramid B at Tula.
Tula’s atlantes resemble Toltec warriors.
This restored Aztec twin temple at Santa Cecelia is the only one that survives.
In the suburbs of Mexico City we visit the twin temple complex of Tenayucu, a Chichimec center.
A wall of serpents surrounds the temple complex at Tenayuca.
At the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, we admire the gigantic statue of Chalchiuhtlicue, the water goddess. It comes from the great city of Teotihuacán and dates to about A.D. 300.
In the Aztec room, Dr. Jeffrey Blomster, our archaeologist guide, tells us of the Aztec monuments discovered in Mexico City including the famous Aztec calendar stone on the back wall.
Coatlicue was the Aztec earth goddess and mother of the sun god Huitzilopochtli. She has a serpent head and wears a shirt of snakes.
The circular pyramid at Cuicuilco is one of the earliest in the Mexico City area dating to the Preclassic. The site was covered with lava from a volcanic eruption in about A.D. 300.
This large ballcourt is at the hilltop center of Xochicalco south of Mexico City. It flourished from about A.D. 650 to 900.
The Temple of the Feathered Serpent at Xochicalco is covered by relief carvings that are in a Maya style.
Xochicalco’s feathered serpent.
Chalcatzingo was an Olmec and much later a Classic center.
El Rey, the king, depicts an Olmec god/ruler seated in a cave. It is carved in the Olmec style, and dates to about 700 B.C.
The Great Pyramid at Cholula was built in several layers. It is the largest pyramid by volume in the Americas.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula looks like a large hill and supports a Spanish church on top.
Cacaxtla’s palace has a number of well-preserved murals that were discovered in 1975. They have Maya elements and date to ca. A.D.650-700.
In Puebla we visit the famous Uriarte talavera factory where skilled artists produce beautiful pottery.
The gift shop at the Uriarte talavera factory supplied many of our group with a wonderful souvenir.
Native flyers from Veracruz entertain us at Teotihuacán.
The Avenue of the Dead at of Teotihuacán. This great city dominated central Mexico from about A.D. 1 to 700 and had a population of more than 100,000.
The Pyramid of Quetzalcóatl at Teotihuacán features feathered serpents and the rain god Tlaloc. It was buried by another pyramid in about A.D. 300.
Colorful murals at Teotihuacan show the great goddess.
Murals at a residential compound at Teotihuacan.