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Pyramids of the SUN & the MOON and The Palace of Tepantitla

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1/10/2008. The day was bright and warm and we decided to visit the pyramids of Teotihuacan. But first we we had to have something to eat, Alex had no solid food for the last three days. A short distance from the hotel, is a shop selling fresh fruit and fruit juice and we had double servings of both, munching Jalapeñas, hot Mexican chillies. These are available free in every food and fruit selling shops, kept in bowls, sliced (rajas), on the counters. Delicious with cold refreshing fruit juice.

We took a taxi to the Estacíon del Norte (Station of the North) paid the bus fare of 30 pesos. The station is a huge place, buses leave for all destinations in that direction and buses for Teotihuacán leave every fifteen minutes. The journey took one hour.

Teotihuacán teh--oh-tee-wah-kan "Abode of the Gods"), just 50kms north east of distrito federal, was once Meso-america's greatest city and is the number one attraction, both for Mexicans and tourists. The site of the pyramids is huge, and easily compares in its significance to the ruins of Chiapas and Yucatan. Any one who comes here, will be astonished and inspired by the architectural technology of the mighty Toltecs, to whom are attributed the construction of these pyramids, also at Cholula (Tula, their capital is 75kms. from Mexico city). The empire of Toltecs was overthrown and they mysteriously disappeared at the begining of 12th century. The famous Calender Stone of Mexico has been ascribed to Toltecs.

The area is set in a mountainous region, offshoot of the valley of Mexico (La Valle del Mexico), Teotihacán, in times long forgotten in the mist of history, was once the place pulsating with population busy with cultivation, today it is well known for its two vast pyramids, of the Sun & the Moon. The large pyramid was dedicated to Tonatiuah-The Sun.

Aztecs erected a huge stone image of their god at the top of the pyramid and placed a large disc of polished gold facing it, which reflected the rays of the rising sun. This was Mexico's biggest pre-Hispanic ancient city and Mexican empire. The ancient city, we were told, at present covers about 80 square kms, although the site of the two pyramids, which covered more than 20 square kilometres, today covers only about 2kms. of the Avenue of the Dead (Valle de Los Muertos).

The admission fee is 45 pesos and at the entrance you will find many shops selling souvenirs, artifacts, coloured cotton blankets, Sombreros etc. If you want to buy any, this place is cheaper than the art market in the city. You will find many men selling Mexican jewelry and artifacts, figurines of clay, on the ground around the pyramids, and they sell much cheaper too. When we were there, Mexico was going through economic crisis and there were not many tourists in the country and things were very difficult for the people then.

El Palacio de Tepantitla (The Palace of Tepantitla). It took us about four hours to see both pyramids, we walked the vast grounds covering both, sat down and speculated at the might and majesty of the Aztecs. This was a site of pilgrimage of the Aztec royalty, who believed that all the gods had sacrificed themselves here, in order to start the Sun moving at the beginning of the "fifth world", which was inhibited by Aztecs.

The murals of Tepantitla show images of Tlaloc, the Rain God and the temple priests. This residential area once called "palace" is located northwest of the archaeological site at Gate 4, located near the Pyramid of the Sun. This is a mural which has been interpreted as the paradise of Tlaloc, which according to the Aztecs, was the site of the dwelling of the lord of rain and seed/kernels, where after death, came all those who had succumbed, struck by lightning or from dropsy, drowning or other water-related causes.

Teotihuacan, having been a colourful city, the main deity in this mural is also colourful. The scene is framed on a red background, which is a sacred mountain or hill from which flow streams of water, into which are corn kernels, guarded by tlaloques or assistants. On top of the the painting, as a celestial figure, is the central character, Tlaloc, god of rain, who carries a huge headdress shaped as a bird with long green feathers, which sprout jets of water in which intermingle flowers and leaves. Gifts of the earth which fall from his hands, to the ground.

Several specialists in art and iconography of ancient Mexico have come to recognise the central figure not as male but female, which removes Tlaloc from the Aztec pantheon. Instead, the deity of Tepantitla now appears as one Great Mother or Mother Goddess, who may have been related to the great Aztec deity of fertility Xochiquetzal " Beautiful Flower", Mother of the Terrestrial Water.

On returning to the Estacion del Norte, we booked our seats on the bus leaving next day for Oaxacan (Wah-ha-kan).

Several specialists in art and iconography of ancient Mexico have come to recognise the central figure not as male but female, which removes Tlaloc from the Aztec pantheon. Instead, the deity of Tepantitla now appears as one Great Mother or Mother Goddess, who may have been related to the great Aztec deity of fertility Xochiquetzal " Beautiful Flower", Mother of the Terrestrial Water.

On returning to the Estacion del Norte, we booked our seats on the bus leaving next day for Oaxacan (Wah-ha-kan).

Posted by The Islander 09:44 Archived in Mexico Tagged mountains lakes churches buildings landscape bus monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)



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El Bosque de Chapultepec (Grasshopper Hill) is Mexico City’s largest oasis and one of the loveliest places. In many locations such as Chapultepec Park ( millions of grasshoppers rubbed their wings and made the chirping sound, which resonated throughout central Mexico, and thus the name), is home to forests, lakes and several important sights and attractions, most of which are located at and near the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main thoroughfare.

Situated at the end of a long paved path near the main entrance to the park, is the Monumento a los Niños Heroes (Monument of Young Heroes), one of Mexico City’s most important monuments. Built in 1952, it honours six young cadets who refused to surrender to American troops during the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847.
The path starting from this monument, leading to the top of Chapultepec Hill, goes to the Castillo de Chapultepec, formerly an imperial palace and presidential residence. Today, Chapultepec Castle houses the country’s National History Museum, the Zoo and various museums including the most important National Museum of Anthropology. From the hill top, is laid out the the panoramic view of the Mexico City.

After visiting Chapultepec Park, you can take a leisurely stroll along the Paseo de la Reforma. It is like being in Madrid, after visiting the Museo del Prado, Los Sibeles, you take a cool walk along the Paeo del Retiro. Several interesting Mexico City sights and attractions are located along this main boulevard including the Monumento a la Independencia ,popularly known as El Angel (The Angel) which was inaugurated by the then president of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, to commemorate the 100 years of the Independence of Mexico. It is one of the emblematic monuments of the city and is a cultural icon and a place for festivals and national celeberations

La Diana Cazadora (Fountain of Diana the Huntress) whose real name was The Arrow thrower of the Northern Stars "La Flechadora de las Estrellas del Norte.
The young girl who posed nude for the sculptor was called Helvia Martínez Verdayes. The bronze sculpture was elaborated from April to September 1942 and once finished, the figure of the young model, who worked without any remuneration, was immortalised and the sculpture placed in El Paseo de la Reforma, one of the beautiful avenues of the city of Mexico. Replicas of the statue were thereafter, erected in many cities in the country.

A wide pedestrian promenade extends along the middle of the boulevard, reminding you that you may be in La Rambla in Barcelona, making it easy to explore this area of the city on foot. On Sunday mornings the Paseo de la Reforma is closed to motorised traffic, to enable the city’s cyclists to have a free rein in the congested and polluted city.


Mexico City's imposing Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace), located west of the Zocalo, next to the Alameda Central Park, is a beautiful and impressive building,built of white marble. The original work, commissioned by President Porfirio Diaz, to replace the previous National Theatre, was started by the Italian architect Adamo Boari in 1904, in order it to be finished in time to commemorate the centenary of Mexican Independence in 1910. However, the work was stopped, first because of the swampy sub-soil, and then because of the break of the Mexican Revolution against longtime autocrat Porfirio Diaz (who had ordered the construction in the first place), which lasted until around 1920. At the end of the Revolution, Mexican architect, Francisco Mariscal, continued the project, and the landmark was finally inaugurated in 1934.

The Palace hosts exhibitions and theatrical performances and is the main venue of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. It hosts visual arts, dance, music, architecture and literary events. There are two museums housed within the building: the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo Nacional de Arquitectura (National Architecture Museum) which occupies the top floor of the building. There are epic murals on interior walls on the first and second floors by some of Mexico's greatest artists, including Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo.

One of the highlights of the Palace is the glass curtain in the main theatre. Designed by Mexican artist Dr. Atl, aka Gerardo Murillo, and built by Tiffany of New York, this impressive stage curtain is a stained-glass fold able panel, representing the landscape of the Valley of Mexico with its two great volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl.

When we visited the Palace, there was a concert going on in the theater, and next to it, in a very posh restaurant, full of people in elegant dresses, enjoying their lunch. We of course came out, crossed the street and on the opposite side, went to a restaurant atop the Sears Roebuck building. You see, it was lunch time and we were getting hungry, walking the Alameda and window shopping the busy streets.


Under the city lie the ruins of the pre-Hispanic Aztec capital, once known as Tenochtitlan. At the centre of this ancient empire was the Templo Mayor, the most important religious area for the Aztecs. The discovery of thousands of objects used for religious ceremonies, figurines, masks and a giant sculpture of the goddess of the moon and a huge monolith made in her honour, was a major archaeological find. Archaeologists discovered it under the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral in the mid-1900s and excavated in the 1970s.The Spanish Conquerors destroyed the temples and built over the great temple of Tenochtitlan.

Posted by The Islander 11:22 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes mountains beaches people landscape monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)


the legendthe Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary

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El Zocalo, the city centre is also built upon subsoil, and has sunk more than 12 meters in the last 100 years or so. So has the Catedral Metropolitana, as has El Palacio de Bellas Artes and other ancient buildings in Alameda Central.

Spanish built their buildings with solid stone, buildings not only as dewllings and monuments, but as Citadelas, fortresses. And not only in their colonies, but at home also. Go any where in Spain, the churches and cathedrals of Málaga, Sevilla, Burgos, León, Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, as well as in other cities, the structure is of massive stone.

On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk fifteen miles to daily Mass in what is now Mexico City. Juan lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and laborer. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow. A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the Virgin Mary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said, "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother, . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings.

The 400th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego was held in Mexico in 1931. In celeberation of that event, the Church authorities decided to make a monumental painting of the brunette of Tepeyac to adorn the old greater Altar of the Cathedral of Mexico.

The image was placed in the center of the presbytery at the greater Altar of the Cathedral, which at the time was the famous Cypress made by Hidalga Lorenzo in 1851. The painting of the Image adorned the celebrations of the fourth centenary of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The celeberation over , the painting was got down, the frame was removed , the canvas was folded up and the painting put in storage. After that its existance was completely forgotten.

Sixty years later, in the decades of the 90s of the last century, during the placement of the lights and pillars to support and strengthen the structure of the Cathedral of Mexico, father Luis Avila, then the chief Sacristan of the Cathedral grounds, was surprised with a finding that was made during the excavation works, under the altar of the present Chapel of our Lady of Zapopan, in a warehouse full of mud, among debris, he found the incredible masterpiece, the Grand canvas of the Virgin of Guadalupe de Aguirre".

Currently this monumental image of La Guadallupana, painted on a large canvas, recovered in a providential way, can be appreciated on the wall facing the Altar of forgiveness; which is located just above the Puerta del Perdón.

El Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María in Mexico City, is one of the oldest and largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the Americas and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It is also built of massive solid stone, as such buildings were constructed in Spain in sixteenth and seventeenth century. The construction started on the orders of King Felipe II in 1667 but it was not completed until the begining of the ninteenth century. In August 2013 was celeberated two hundred years of its completion.

The interior as well as exterior of the cathedral is beautiful. Near the main entrance is the image of the Lord of Poison (La imagen del Señor del Veneno) situated in the the Alter of Forgiveness ( el Altar del Perdón).

Also called "black Christ", in gratitude for favors received, the faithful offer candles, flowers, and other articles for distribution to the most needy in the community. The devotees who come to mass with images and crucifixes the Christ of black complexion and feet crossed and bound with twine, to ask for all kinds of favours, in particular healings. Legend say that this image of Christ miraculously saved the life of a devotee, who was poisoned, sucking the poison through its bound feet. As the result of this miracle of absorbing the poison, the image turned black.

Those who frequent the image believe that the Lord of Poison "absorbs" their sicknesses, infections and pain. On the 19 of October of each year, the Festival of the miraculous image of El Señor de Veneno (the Lord of the poison) is celeberated with a solemn mass, which is attended by thousands of faithful devotees.

The image of the Lord of the poison is made of pulp of sugarcane by way of a very ancient indigenous technique. The image of Christ, from the 18th century, was in the chapel of the Seminary of Porta Coeli in the city of Mexico, which after being closed to the public in 1935, the image was moved to the Cathedral of Mexico.

It would seem astonishing to even imagine how the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City is situated atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Plaza de la Constitutión, and was built upon the same site where had stood the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitla.The Cathedral built upon a vision of Virgin Mary seen by a peasant in 1531.

Posted by The Islander 11:23 Archived in Mexico Tagged landscapes mountains beaches churches people monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)

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