Located in the Valley of Mexico, the city was originally built on an island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan
Since the Mesoamerican pre-Classical period the inhabitants of the settlements around Lake Texcoco produced many works of art and complex craftsmanship, some of which are today displayed at the world-renown National Museum of Anthropology and the Templo Mayor Museum.
To See & Do
Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the pre-Columbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch since then. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro. In addition, Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world (without taking into account art galleries), with New York #2, London #3 and Toronto #4.
Parks – Mexico City is full of various plazas and parks scattered through every neighborhood.
- Xochimilco, a vast system of waterways and flower gardens dating back to Aztec times in the south of the city where tourists can enjoy a trip in the “trajineras” (vividly-colored boats). Trajineras pass each other carrying Mariachi or marimba bands, and floating bars and taquerias. Xochimilco is the last remnant of how Mexico City looked when the Spanish arrived to Mexico City in 1521 and it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Museums – Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world, to name some of the most popular:
- Templo Mayor Museum (Zocalo) Centro. Contains the ruins and last remnants of the Aztec empire. attached to the huge archeological site where the foundations of the temple were accidentally found in the 1970s.One of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. The modern-day archeological site lies just to the northeast of the Zocalo, or main plaza of Mexico City, on the corner of what are now Seminario and Justo Sierra streets. The site is part of the Historic Center of Mexico City, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.On 25 February 1978, workers for the electric company were digging at a place in the city then popularly known as the “island of the dogs.” At just over two meters down they struck a pre-Hispanic monolith. This stone turned out to be a huge disk of over 3.25 meters (10.6 feet) in diameter, 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) thick and weighing 8.5 tons. The relief on the stone was later determined to be Coyolxauhqui, the moon goddess, dating to the end of the 15th century. From 1978 to 1982, specialists directed by archeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma worked on the project to excavate the Temple. Initial excavations found that many of the artifacts were in good enough condition to study. Efforts coalesced into the Templo Mayor Project.During excavations, more than 7,000 objects were found, mostly offerings including effigies, clay pots in the image of Tlaloc, skeletons of turtles, frogs, crocodiles, and fish, snail shells, coral, some gold, alabaster, Mixtec figurines, ceramic urns from Veracruz, masks from what is now Guerrero state, copper rattles, decorated skulls and knives of obsidian and flint. These objects are housed in the Templo Mayor Museum. This museum is the result of the work done since the early 1980s to rescue, preserve and research the Templo Mayor, its Sacred Precinct and all objects associated with it. The museum exists to make all of the finds available to the public.
The Aztec Empire • Locations & Activities