Long before the Spanish conquest, many advanced civilizations, such as the Olmecs (1400-400 BC), Mayas (250-900 AD), and Aztecs (1325-1521 AD), flourished in Mexico. They achieved great advancement in many fields, including architecture, mathematics and astronomy. During 1519 to 1521, the Spanish Hernán Cortés conquered and colonized Mexico. Mexico was under the Spanish rule for nearly 300 years. In 1810, taking advantage of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic Father, proclaimed Mexico’s independence from Spain. His declaration, known as the "Grito de Dolores" in Mexico, started the struggle for independence which lasted eleven years. In 1821, the Treaty of Córdoba was signed at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. A republic was proclaimed in 1822 and established in1824. After achieving independence, the political instability continued. In 1846, the Mexican- American War broke out. The war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, forcing Mexico to cede almost half of its territory including Texas and California to the United States. During the four presidential term of Benito Juarez (from 1858 to 1872 including as interim president), the liberal reforms were promoted. And in 1861, France invaded Mexico and eventually defeated Mexican army. France installed the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, who ruled as emperor from 1864 to 1867. President Benito Juárez kept the federal government functioning during the French intervention and restored the republic in 1867. Juárez returned to office and served as president until he died in 1872. Under the presidency of the authoritarian General Porfirio Diaz, the country achieved remarkable economic growth and political stability, however, at the same time, economic inequality and the political repression eventually led to the Mexican Revolution, which lasted from 1910 until 1920. During the Revolution, about 10 % of the country’s population was lost. In 1917, The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which is the present constitution of Mexico, was drafted and approved. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under the name of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), held power for 71 years, winning every presidential election until 2000, when Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN) won the race. The country’s economy is strongly linked to the U.S. As to tourism, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization. It ranks fifth in the world and first in the Americas on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with 31.
On the second day, before the tour to Teotihuacan, we went to see the city sights of Mexico City first.
We started the city sightseeing with the 38m high Angel of Independence.
Next visiting site was Zócalo where the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace were located.
Legend has it that the Aztecs received a divine prophecy that they would prosper if they created a new city on the site where an eagle holding a snake in its mouth perched on a tree (or on a cactus, I forgot!) and that the Aztecs found the eagle in Zócalo. It is also said that the statue of the eagle was built at the exact point where there was the tree on which the eagle perched. They created the city reclaiming a lake, which has developed to be current Mexico City. They seemed very religious people.
*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.
A big monitor was being placed in Zócalo (Constitution Square). They were preparing for FIFA World Cup final to be held on the next day. The guide said the Mexican people favored Spain and that most of the Mexican would be glued to TVs on the day of the final. Was it true? Due to the preparation, the security was tightened and we could not enter the National Palace.
We also looked the Metropolitan Cathedral from outside.
Many people gathered in the square.
I saw a man burning incense spreading a sheet in a drizzle of rain. The guide told me that he was a shaman and preparing to break a hex. The guide said some Mexican people asked a shaman to cast a hex on a person they hated and that the hexed person asked a shaman to break it and that in some cases that person in turn asked to the shaman to cast back a hex. The Mexican people really seemed to be very religious. In a sense, it was amazing that such a custom was still alive there.
Then we went to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It was also a large and handsome shrine. I heard that it was the most visited catholic shrine because it was the only shrine in the Central and South America to be authorized by Vatican. The shrine keeps the famous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The image is said to be miraculously imprinted on the indigenous peasant’s cloak. It is also said that the image has not faded away after hundreds of years since its first appearance on the cloak. The new building was constructed because the old shrine became tilted due to land sinking. You can see from my photo that the old shrine is tilted. The land continues to sink everywhere in Mexico City.
After lunch, we headed to Teotihuacan.
Approaching to Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun appeared out of the bus window. It was smaller than the Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt, but its appearance in nature was really spectacular. It seemed to me that it was more attractive to see the ancient relics in nature than in the busy cities as the pyramids in Egypt.
After receiving a brief explanation about a room and an office of priest from the guide, we started touring Teotihuacan.
We first climbed the Pyramid of the Moon. Though I only climbed 48 steps, I was out of breath at once because Teotihuacan was in high altitude.
The view from the Pyramid of the Moon was familiar on TV and pictures. It is agreed that the ritual human sacrifice was practiced on the Pyramid of the Moon. I felt that it would be the best place to practice a ritual to offer their god a human sacrifice. The scenery would be beautiful if it was seen from the sky. The Pyramid of the Sun was seen on the back left.
Then we went to the Pyramid of the Sun. There, the staircase continued to the top, allowing us to climb to the top. Since the Pyramid of the Sun was far higher and its staircase was steeper than that of the Pyramid of the Moon, I could not climb to the top without taking breath in the middle. And it was worth climbing. The view from the top was supreme! As we were told that our wish would be realized by receiving the energy from the Sun on the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, everyone seemed to try to charge its energy to him/her. I was really satisfied that I could visit here at the end of my world journey.