Why didn't the Aztecs leave Mexico?

The history of Mexico City

Teotihuacán is 40 kilometers northeast of the lake. It was the capital of an empire whose influence reached as far as Guatemala. Tula, the capital of the Toltecs, was 65 kilometers to the north. When the Toltec empire collapsed in the 13th century, Tula was abandoned. This cleared the way for the Aztecs: And so begins the history of Mexico City.

1325: The Aztecs, then still a nomadic tribe, come to the west bank of Lake Texcoco. According to legend, there they see an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake. A sign of their war god Huitzilopochtli to build a city here: Tenochtitlán, place of the cactus.

The city becomes the center of the vast Aztec empire. In order to feed the rapidly growing population, the Aztecs lay gardens on artificial islands and dike the Lago de Texcoco.

1519: When the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés came to Tenochtitlán with a small army in 1519, the city was home to well over 100,000 people. The Aztec ruler Moctezuma II believes he recognizes the white-headed, bearded god Quetzalcoatl in Cortés and welcomes the Spaniards.

He even lets Cortés and some men into his palace - where they take him hostage. Years of tough struggle for the city ensues, in which the gullible Moctezuma is killed by his own subordinates.

1521: After a 79-day siege, Cortés was able to subdue Tenochtitlán. This marked the beginning of the 300-year rule of the Spaniards. The conquerors destroyed most of the Aztec city as soon as they were captured, the rest they destroyed during their rule.

1535: Mexico City becomes the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Spaniards are building an elegant, magnificent metropolis from the remains of the destroyed Aztec city: they are replacing temples with churches, Aztec palaces with Spanish ones, and building new streets, squares and parks.

1553: Foundation of the university. With more than 260,000 students, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) is now the largest university in Latin America. It is also good: The British daily newspaper "The Times" declared the university to be one of the 100 best universities in the world in 1995 after a study.

1629: A major flood submerged large parts of Mexico City for several years. It is not the first flood disaster: the Spaniards misjudge the importance of the canals and dykes and let them deteriorate for a long time. Diseases keep breaking out in the swampy area.

1821: The Mexican War of Independence ends with the capture of Mexico City by the rebels. Their leader Agustín de Iturbide will be crowned emperor next year. Mexico City had 160,000 inhabitants at that time, significantly fewer than under the Aztecs. Even so, Mexico City was still America's largest city at the time.

1847: In the Mexican-American War, Mexico City is captured by the United States and occupied for five months. The war ends with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, with which the Mexicans cede California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas to the USA.

1861 to 1872: Liberal reforms under Benito Juárez. His term in office is interrupted by armed French intervention. From 1863 to 1867 Mexico City was occupied by the French: under the pretext of collecting foreign debts.

1877 to 1911: Industrialization began under the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. Many Parisian-style buildings are being built in Mexico City, as are villas and theaters. A large part of Lake Texcoco will be drained so that the city can continue to grow.

1921: The peasants, led by Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, win the Mexican Revolution. It kills thousands and brings hunger and disease to Mexico City. However, due to industrialization, the city is gaining in importance: Money and people are pouring in here.

1968: Hundreds of thousands of students are protesting against corruption and authoritarian politics in Mexico City. President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz fears for the city's reputation, after all Mexico City hosts the Olympic Games in the same year.

To show strength, the police set up a massacre. Hundreds of students were shot dead in a demonstration on October 2nd. The Olympics start a week later, according to plan.

The Summer Olympics have never been held this high up. Good for the athletes on the short distances - the thin air brings them fantastic increases in performance. There are 48 new world records in athletics alone.

On the long-haul routes, however, many athletes collapse because of the lack of oxygen in their blood: "Death runs with" headlines in German newspapers.

1985: At least 10,000 people die in a devastating magnitude 8 earthquake. Large parts of the city center are destroyed. Today efforts are being made in Mexico City to build in such a way that the buildings can withstand strong impacts even on the soft ground.

2003: The Torre Mayor is completed. The skyscraper is 228 meters high, making it the tallest building in Latin America at the time. The earthquake-proof construction was a particular challenge. The tower is a symbol of the international importance of Mexico City as a cultural and economic center.

WDR | Status: 07/14/2020, 11:29 am