Sunday, December 4, 2016

Templo Mayor – Mexico City

In the historic centre of Mexico City, near the imposing Catedral Metropolitana, we find Templo Mayor. In Aztec times the Templo Mayor stood in a sacred walled compound in the centre of Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) before Cortes destroyed it. However, in 1978 a massive round carved stone was uncovered accidentally near Zocalo that led to a major archeological project, uncovering the ruins of the magnificent double pyramid complex.

The Great Temple, just as many constructions in the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan, was expanded on numerous occasions. According to historical sources, it was rebuilt on par with the expansion of the Mexica Empire. In addition, the city suffered ongoing floods and earthquakes, and the subsoil of the island-city was constantly settling. This forced the Mexicas to raise the level of their constructions to prevent their buildings from sinking.

Seven different times, the temple was completely covered with construction fill composed of mud and stone. Each time the former structure was covered by a new building of larger dimensions and of better quality. On five additional occasions, only the main façade was expanded. During the inauguration of each new building, war captives from kingdoms conquered expressly for the event were sacrificed. Due to this construction method, the earliest stages were never seen by the Spaniards, nor by the last generations of the Mexicas.

The Great Temple was the Mexica sacred space par excellence. The most important rituals were enacted here, including those dedicated to their gods, the naming of their leaders, and the funerals of the nobility. The Mexica architects designed the Great Temple as the centre of their model of the universe, where the horizontal plane converged with the vertical plane. 

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