Under the hustle and bustle of modern Mexico City lie the ruins of the pre-Hispanic Aztec capital, once known as Tenochtitlan. At the center of this ancient empire was the Templo Mayor, the most important religious area for the Aztecs. Archaeologists discovered it under the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, located in the Zocalo, in the mid-1900s and excavated in the 1970s. When the Spanish Conquerors arrived, they destroyed the temples and built over the Aztec empire and the great temple of Tenochtitlan. Still an active site, archeologists are continuously unearthing artifacts and structures.
Visitors can view sections of the two main religious temples (dedicated to the god of war and rain god), pyramids, serpent carvings, and shrines. Archeologists also recently discovered a ceremonial platform that they hope will provide deeper insight into Aztec culture and rituals. Templo Mayor was built of stone and covered with stucco and polychrome paint, some of which remains today.
Today the unearthed structures are open to the public along with the Templo Mayor Museum that houses many of the era’s artifacts. When archeologists first started excavating the ruins they found thousands of objects that they understood were used as offerings. These relics housed in the Templo Mayor Museum include clay pots, coral, figurines, urns, masks, skulls, obsidian knives and a giant sculpture of the goddess of the moon along with a large monolith dedicated to her.
The historic complex of the Templo Mayor and its museum, part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, are definitely two of Mexico City’s main attractions.