You can find Aztec ruins in Mexico City if you visit the Museo de Templo Mayor. The museum is in fact a live archaeological site with all the findings of the Temple (outside) displayed in the museum (inside). So on a sunny day, it makes for a perfect combination.
The Museo de Templo Mayor is situated just behind the Catedral Metropolitana or just off the Plaza de la Constitución or the Zócalo.
The Temple is thought to be built on the exact spot where the Aztecs saw their symbolic eagle perching on a cactus with a snake in its beak, now the symbol of Mexico. For the Aztecs, this spot was believed to be the centre of the universe.
Building of the Temple is believed to have started in 1325 and was subsequently enlarged several times with ritual sacrifices of captured warriors (the film Apocalypto starts to ring bells). In 1487, it is said that some 20000 captives were once slaughtered in a four day ceremony for its reconstruction.
You can actually have a view of the ruins from outside without paying the entrance fee of $M57. But from this position it looks like any building site and I must admit was rather unimpressive.
As you enter deeper into the site, small details of antiquity unfold and the enchantment of this ancient civilisation begins to take hold.
Unfortunately, some insensitive people thought it would be a good idea to build an aqueduct through the site in the early 1900s.
The skull-claded Altar of Tzompantli is in standing condition and gives you an insight into Aztec culture. There is an impressive 240 skull replica as you continue the tour and enter the Museo de Templo Mayor.
Inside the museum is where the real treasures lie, with artefacts from different rooms of the temple. Ouside and inside piece themselves together and stimulate the imagination to form a better picture of the Aztec past.
There are some great artefacts on display. I have listed a few of my favourites. Like the Anthropology Museum, the Museo de Templo Mayor is a another great opportunity to see Aztec ruins in Mexico City.
The God of Twins or Doubles taking the shape of a dog’s head.
Dios Mictlantecuhtli – The God of Death
It is beleived that at this site, the region of the eternal lost and forgotten sleep, the souls of those who died of sickness or old age were directed.
It would take 4 years for the souls to arrive at Mictlan, during which the deceased would travel through new destinations full of danger.
These Mexican Warriors were strongly linked to the Destiny of the Sun.
This God of Happiness was found in the North Patio of the Templo Mayor
This is in fact a portable heater. It’s simply beautiful and put’s to shame the ergonomics of the one’s I have at home.
In conclusion, visiting the Templo Mayor was my first experience of Aztec ruins in Mexico City and it was great to have a structure of such historical significance so easily accessible.
It also has a pretty funky gift shop!