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Templo Mayor Archaeological Site and Museum

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Templo Mayor Ruins

Templo Mayor

Photo by Distra, Creative Commons

Templo Mayor Overview:

The Templo Mayor, or "great temple" stands in the heart of Mexico City. This was the main temple of the Mexica people (Aztecs) and stood within an enclosed area known as the sacred precinct. In 1978 electric company workers uncovered a monolith depicting Coyolxauqui, the Aztec moon goddess. Following this discovery, the Mexico City government gave permission for a full city block to be torn down and excavated, resulting in the Templo Mayor archaeological site and museum.

Templo Mayor Archaeological Site:

At its time of splendor, the Templo Mayor was a pyramid with two temples at the top dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, and Tlaloc, the rain god. The temple went through seven different construction stages, with successive layers making the temple larger, until it reached its maximum height of about 200 feet (60 m). What remains visible to visitors today are sections of the temple's different construction phases. Little remains of the final layer of the temple which was built around 1500.

The Temple and the area around it, known as the temple precinct, were the center of Mexica religious life in Tenochtitlan. The most important aspects of Mexica political, religious and economic life took place within this area.

Templo Mayor Museum:

The Templo Mayor museum contains eight exhibit halls that narrate the history of the archaeological site. Here you will find displays of the artifacts discovered during within the temple ruins, including the monolith of the goddess Coyolxauhqui, as well as obsidian knives, rubber balls, jade and turquoise masks, reliefs, sculptures and many other objects.

Designed by Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, the museum opened on October 12, 1987. The museum was designed based on the shape of the Templo Mayor, so it has two sections: the South, devoted to aspects of the worship of Huitzilopochtli, like war, sacrifice and tribute, and the North, dedicated to Tlaloc, which focuses on aspects such as agriculture, flora and fauna. In this way the museum reflects the Aztec world view of the duality of life and death, water and war, and the symbols represented by Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli.

Highlights:

Location:

In Mexico City's historical center, the Templo Mayor is located on the east side of Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral at #8 Seminario street. Zocalo Metro station.

Hours:

Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. Closed Monday.

Admission:

Admission fee is 51 pesos. Free for Mexican citizens and residents on Sundays. The fee includes entry to the Templo Mayor archaeological site as well as the Templo Mayor museum. There is an extra charge for permission to use a video camera.

Contact Information:

Phone: 01 (55) 5542-4943 or 5542-4784
Web Site: www.templomayor.inah.gob.mx

Also visit: Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology

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