With the help of trained engineers,
builders, and traders, the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan became a
great city. It had huge temples, beautiful open plazas, and a huge
bustling central marketplace. By
the mid-1400’s, Tenochtitlan had a population of about 300,000 people,
which made it the largest city in the world at that time!
Spanish soldiers first arrived in the Valley of Mexico, they were amazed
at what they found in the capital city of Tenochtitlan. Everything was
clean. There were “eating houses” and hairdressers. You could buy
medicines and herbs and all kinds of food. You could buy meat and game.
There were streets that sold only pottery and mats.
Painters could buy the paints they needed for their art.
One soldier said,
“There were soldiers among us who had been in many parts of the world,
in Constantinople and Rome and all over Italy, who said that they had
never before seen a market place so large and so filled with people.”
the leader of the Spanish soldiers, mentioned in one of letters home
that he believed there were more than 60,000 people in the marketplace
buying and selling wares. No one used money. Goods were bartered and
small differences in value were evened up using cocoa beans! Cortes
found the use of cocoa beans quite amusing. But then, he had never
tasted hot chocolate before.
Today, Mexico City is sitting on the site
of the original Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Mexico City has covered up
the lake. All that is left are small pockets of water, and underground
waterways. This has caused
Mexico City a lot of problems.
Mexico City today is experiencing the
same problems as the ancient Aztecs did long ago. Mexico City is
sinking. The city fathers keep shoring it up. No one wants to lose the
city. It’s an absolutely beautiful city, rich in history and culture.