A Travellerspoint blog

January 2014


the legendthe Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary

View Vamos a Mexico. (Mexico Here we Come) on The Islander's travel map.

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)

MEXICO- The Aztec Empire and its destruction


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It was not until the arrival of the Aztecs, a mysterious tribe of people who came in from the north, that the area acquired its importance.The Aztecs migrated following an ancient legend that prophesied that they would find the site for their new city in a place where they would see a mythical vision fulfilled: an eagle eating a snake while perched atop a prickly cactus(Nopal).

Wandering from place to place, like the Jews of Israel, guided by their oracle, the Aztecs eventually came across this land, on what was then a small swampy island in Lake Tex-coco in the Valley of Mexico and in 1325, built their capital Tenochtitlan (Nahuatl name for the city) of the expanding Aztec Empire and their civilisation. The Mexican legend says that Aztecs were persuaded by their war-god Huitzilopochtli or Mexitl (from whom was derived the name Mexica or Azteca and the name adopted by its people, to settle on this swampy island.

Undeterred by the inhospitable land, they invented the chinampa system to dry the areas by dividing them in small plots, and once that achieved, they built their capital city, which stood on an artificial lagoon. The Aztec built their first temple in honour of their bloodthirsty god Huitzilopochtli, who had led them to this promised land, as Moses led the Jews of Israel. The huts were made of reeds and mud (cañas y barro) , which grew in the swampy land, and called them Xacali, which later was called Jacales ( shanties of the poor peóns) by the Spaniards. Peóns were ensalved by the Spaniards to work on their haciendas and silver mines. Much of the early construction of huts was of caña y barro.

At the centre of Tenochtitlan was a large walled precinct, the focus of religious activity, containing the main temples , dedicated to Huitzilopitchli ( a deity of war, sun, human sacrifice and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan), Tlaloc the Rain God, and Quetzalcoatl, the white man, the Feathered Serpent, one of the major deities of the ancient Mexican pantheon. Aztec and mythical Maya built stone temples, pyramids, great chambers and tombs, inscribed hieroglyphics and made artifacts. Even today the mythical civilisations of Aztec, Incas, Toltec and Maya are admired by us. The Toltec were the founders of Teotihuacan and Cholula, the historical pyramids for their worship, human and animal sacrifice, and who were termed as despotic and barbaric, uncivilised noble savages by the Spanish conquistadors.

Mexican believed that Quetzalcoatl, the "Feathered Serpent", a white man of an imposing personality and noble features, a foreigner, who had come to live with them and taught them the religion of living simple and austere life, in which the sacrifice of humans and animals was forbidden, who after living among them for more than twenty years, promising that he would one day return, mysteriously disappeared in the direction of the Rising Sun.

This belief that he would return from the east in a One Reed year led the Aztec sovereign Montezuma II to regard the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortez and his comrades as messengers of the Sun God, welcomed them, protected them, because 1519, the year in which the Spanish landed on the Mexican coast, was a One Reed year (Aztec calendar, dating system based on the Mayan calendar).

Mexican were awed at the tall ships with white sails, which appeared on their horizon, men dressed in strange costumes and riding strange animals (Mexican had never seen horses before) and strange vehicles (gun carriages) and with superstitious reverence, fell at their feet.

Between 1519-1521 when Hernan Cortez invaded Mexico. the city of Tenochtitlan was besieged several times. In order to create space for their cavalry to manoeuvre, the conquistadors pulled down most of the city's buildings and thus largely destroying the city. Mexico City was built on top of the ruins of the city. During the siege, the city was ravaged by small pox which was brought to the country by the Spanish and the Aztec King Cuitlahuac, died during the siege. In 1521 the last emperor Cuauhtemoc (Guatemoc) the defender of Tenochtitlan, surrendered to the Spanish invaders. Thus ended the mighty empire of the Aztec.

In the 17th century, the Spaniards had the brilliant idea of draining the Lake but discontinued it later. In consequence, in 1629 the city of Mexico was flooded. Similar flood occurred in 1622. Many thousands poor Mexicans living in los Jacales (shanties) perished in these floods. The whole city has been gradually sinking since then.

Posted by The Islander 10:48 Archived in Mexico Tagged mountains lakes beaches churches art buildings landscape monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)


People of Mexico

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Mexico, Lanscape, Mexico travel, people, mountains, Mexico monuments, Mexico pyramids, Mexico rainforest, forests, Mexico ancient cites, Mexico ancient monuments, Mexico history, Mexico cuture.

Mexicans men and women, are of short stature, men stout and muscular when young and fat when older. As for women, the señorita of the north was difficult to find in the urban Mexico cities, instead big breasted and wide hipped females without any sexual charm or attraction.

I found Mexicans well dressed, men in business suits and women in skirts and blouses and jackets. Women and girls were casually dressed in a halter tops, or a sleeveless T-shirt, and a short skirt or Shorts. Office workers and bureaucrats in black suits, students in uniforms. Men wore well polished shoes with high heels, and had well trimmed, short cut hair. I also found Mexicans unsmiling and incurious people, devoid of any expressions on their faces. Seroius and sombre expressions. Mexican are courteous people but the elegance and grace and gallantry of the Spanish which wafted over the ocean, was no longer evident.

Ethnically Mexicans are divided in different classes, people from Spanish and European descendants, who considered themselves of pure and white blood, their descendants the Creoles, then Mestizos (mixed blood) and los Indios (the Indians), who were the direct descendants of original people who were the occupants of the country in pre-Hispanic times. There existed many tribes and in order of population, Nahuatlan, Zapotecan, Mayan Mistecan could be mentioned. The Mayan and Nahuatlan people were the formost tribes who have left, in the vally of Mexico and inYucatan, the monuments and cultural sites, their long lasting history. We were told by the guides that there are still numerous monuments in stone, scattered in the forests of Mexico, which are still to be discovered.

Columbus, who was searching for the sea route to India, erroneously thought that he had reached the shores of India and called the natives los Indios, name which came to be termed with contempt by the Europeans and Americans. The native tribes of Peru and Brazil are also called Indios, as are the indians of India by the Spanish. In Mexico there are many different tribes of Indians and Zapotec and Mistecas comprise more than half the population of the country.

As has happened in many countries like Venezuela, Peru and Chile and Argentina in South America, in Philippines, Malaya, Indonesia etc, in South East Asia, the so called white upper class people controlled the large part of the properties and businesses, administrative jobs etc, although the majority of the population consisted of people of mixed or Indian blood. These people for centuries, have been the backbone of the mining industry and agriculture. In the olden days you would find the well heeled people in Europeans dress and the working class in the garb of a peon, with a collarless shirt,very tight white trousers, colourful cloth belt (la faja) some times a bolero short jacket, reaching up to the waist, a colourful blanket (la manta) thrown over his shoulder. And a hat or el sombrero to shield him from the merciless desert heat.

Although the working and and labour class (peons) suffered from the Spanish greed for gold and silver, were the victims of their injustice and cruel slavery, which today would be described as crimes against humanity and holocaust, Mexican Indians do not suffer from any social and political discrimination or marginalisation. President Juarez and General Porfirio Diaz, the autocrat President, were from Zapotec and Misteca tribes respectively. Many people with whom I talked about the Spanish, were still angry at the uncivilised and barberic way the Spanish treated the Mexicans. And Spanish have never apologised for their brutal and inhuman treatment of the Mexican Indians.

Posted by The Islander 03:08 Archived in Mexico Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes beaches churches buildings landscape monuments backpacking air-travel Comments (0)

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