I find it fascinating to think that the heaving heart of Mexico City sits on top of possibly hundreds of pyramids, temples and palaces of the sophisticated Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, largely destroyed by Cortes and his gold-hungry (and self-interestedly righteous – Ant’s bit) Spanish Conquistadors in 1521. Pounding the streets of downtown as we were today, it’s hard to believe the history of this place and what lies beneath our feet.
Incredibly it was only recently, like 1978, that the Templo Major (site of all the most bloody rituals) was rediscovered, having sunk centuries ago beneath the soft muddy sub-soil of what is essentially a giant silted up lake – oh, and did I mention, it’s also 2,250 metres above sea level and plagued with earthquakes – the most recent in Feb this year was 7.5 and triggered the eruption of Popocatépetl. Actually, the whole of Mexico City is facing the same fate as Tenochtitlan, as clearly evident in many buildings that appear to lean at alarming angles with ominous cracks across their walls.
I love this quote from one of the archaeologists from 1978 “If we were allowed to keep on looking, we’d probably finish up knocking down the entire centre of Mexico City” – like that’s going to happen. Well, until nature does its work anyway.