Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, was one of the most magnificent cities in human history. It was founded on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco in 1325 and existed for only two centuries, but during that time it became the largest and most populous city on Earth. About 100 thousand people lived in the capital, and every day sacrifices were performed here, which caused horror among neighboring settlements and conquistadors.
History of the founding of Tenochtitlan
To choose a place for the capital, the Aztecs roamed the southern lands of North America for 260 years. According to legend, the god of the sun and war Huitzilopochtli willed to found the city where the Aztecs would see an eagle sitting on a cactus with booty in its claws. And so, in the first quarter of the XIV century, the Indians were lucky – they found such a place: and with an eagle, and with cacti, and with a victim. That’s how Tenochtitlan came to be.
However, there is also a less romanticized version. By the time the Aztecs came to the valley of modern Mexico City, the entire territory was divided between local tribes. No one wanted to give a good piece to the aliens, but to allocate an uninhabited island in Lake Texcoco, where there were a lot of snakes, – this is please, welcome. The locals expected that the strangers would have a hard time. But they didn’t know that snakes were an essential element of the Aztec diet. The Indians were happy.
The Aztecs were known for their sacrifices that horrified neighboring settlements and conquistadors. They would cut out people’s hearts and sacrifice them to the sun. This was commonplace, and sacrifices were made every day in Tenochtitlan. In the center of the city was a gigantic ritual center with many altars, above which rose the 45-meter high Great Temple. It was a “city within a city”: the territory surrounded by a high wall was entered only for special rituals.
Features of the city
In the city were engaged in agriculture. The Aztecs created artificial islands on which they grew vegetables, spices and flowers. All monumental buildings Aztec builders, taking into account the loose soil, erected on long, thin and elastic piles. It was often necessary to move inside the city by water. In a word, Venice in the Mexican way.
The end of Tenochtitlan
Tenochtitlan fell in 1521 under the onslaught of Hernan Cortez and his thugs. The Aztec capital was destroyed and many inhabitants were killed. However, the descendants of the Aztecs still live in Mexico today, quietly and peacefully, not unlike their forefathers.
Interesting facts about Tenochtitlan:
– There are different versions of the translation of the name Tenochtitlan. One of them is “the city, on the stones of which the tunas (sacred fruits) grow in abundance”, according to another – “the heart of the earth”.
– The flag of Mexico shows an eagle perched on a cactus and holding a snake in its talons. This symbolizes the legend of how the Aztecs found the site for their capital.
– Tenochtitlan was the largest and most populous city on Earth in 1500.
– All the monumental Aztec buildings were built on long, thin and resilient piles.
– Travel within the city was often by water.
– Agriculture was practiced in the city. The Aztecs created artificial islands on which they grew vegetables, spices and flowers.