In Mexico City´s historic centre, or the Zocalo, you will find the ruins of a pyramid! Entrance to visit the pyramid site – Templo Mayor, is 64 pesos and you can get an audio guide for 80pesos. I didn´t have enough money for the audio guide when I visited the site, so I just walked around and read the signs, which was very insightful.
The archaeological site lies next to the cathedral; Northeast of the Zocalo (main plaza). The magnificent cathedral was built on top of the ruins of an Aztec precinct. The Spanish colonial city was simply built on top of the Aztec temple and other important sites. To excavate the temple thirteen buildings close to the main plaza had to be demolished.
It was a surreal experience to walk in between the walls of the ruins, while everyday life in the city continued around me. It was a very hot day in Mexico City when I visited the ruins. Archaeological sites tend to be unshaded and all the stones reflect the heat of the midday sun; therefore it’s better to visit ruin sites early in the morning.
Visitors follow a specific route through the site. The temple was rebuilt six times. The route starts at the outer walls – the last layer of the temple, and you walk past the thick walls of the different stages of the temple showing how it was rebuilt.
Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325 and it was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521.
Mexico City was known as the The capital city of the Aztecs and was named Tenochtitlan. Templo Mayor (Great Temple) was one of the main temples of the Aztecs. It was dedicated simultaneously to two gods, “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 shrine is the stepped structure in the picture below and was built during the second phase of the temple’s construction, around 1400:
Serpents were important animals for the Aztecs. There are sculptures of serpents all over the temple.
The artifact in the archaeological site that interested me the most was the wall of skulls: