The Spanish conquistadors, aided by an alliance of indigenous peoples, laid siege to the Aztec capital for 93 days, until the Mexica surrendered on August 13, 1521. It was the home of the Mexicas, the most powerful society in the empire Why did the Aztecs sacrifice human beings? Tenochtitlan. The Aztec Empire was built and maintained by force, and every single Aztec male was given military training. Lake Texcoco was ultimately drained, and much of Mexico City rests in the lake basin. The center of the city was known as the Templo Mayor. Tenochtitlan – The capital of the Aztec empire (located in present-day Mexico). The Azcapotzalco forces were defeated by an alliance of Texcoco, Tenochtitlan (the capital of the Mexica) and several other smaller cities. As Tenochtitlán’s empire grew so did its trade. It has been estimated that during that period, only a handful of cities could matc… According to legend, the Mexica founded Tenochtitlan after leaving their homeland of Aztlan at the direction of their god, Huitzilopochtli. The image of an eagle eating a snake atop a prickly pear cactus can also be seen on the modern day Mexican flag.Â. Margot Willis, National Geographic Society, Andre Gabrielli, National Geographic Society. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan on the western shore of Lake Texcoco flourished so that the city could boast at least 200,000 inhabitants by the early 16th century CE, making it the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas. organized attack on a fortified or protected structure. The image of an eagle eating a snake atop a prickly pear cactus can also be seen on the modern day Mexican flag. On November 8, 1521, Cortés and 600 … Tenochtitlán, ancient capital of the Aztec empire. people or groups united for a specific purpose. It was founded in 1325 and served as the capital until the Aztecs were conquered by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in 1520. For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. Where was it located? Tenochtitlan was laid out symmetrically, with four sectors separated by four causeways or canals surrounding the central area. She or he will best know the preferred format. Spanish explorer or conqueror of Latin America in the 16th century. practice of removing blood to prevent illness or disease. artwork usually made by a person not formally trained as an artist. The settlement rapidly grew into a city-state, forming part of the Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. Tenochtitlán - Long before it was present-day Mexico City, Tenochtitlán served as the seat of the Aztec empire. Every Aztec city and village had its own market located near the city center. Cortés’ expedition had arrived in Mexico in the early part of 1519, and by the end of the same year the Spanish had laid their eyes on Tenochtitlan for the first time. The Templo Mayor precinct was the location in which the Aztec practiced both bloodletting (offering one’s own blood) and human sacrifice. HeritageDaily is an independent online magazine for archaeological and associated disciplines, dedicated to the heritage and historical sector. Cuzco is the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. The altepetl (city) was founded by the Mexica, a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, who entered the Basin of Mexico after the decline of the Toltec civilisation. The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors brought it to a sudden end. All of these sections were interlaced together with a series of canals that allowed for easy transportation throughout the islets of Lake Texcoco. Commoner housing was usually built of reeds or wood, while noble houses and religious sites were constructed from stone. The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico Learn about the Aztec Empire from their capital of Tenochtitlán to their fall at the hands of the conquistadors. The chinampa system refers to. destruction or surrender of something as way of honoring or showing thanks. The Aztec region of Mesoamerica, called Anáhuac, contained a group of five connected lakes. In the same year, the capital of a future founded the Aztec empire – Tenochtitlan was founded, named after the legendary leader Tenoch (hence another name for the Aztecs – tenochca). They also implemented a … Mexico City is founded on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. Underneath the modern streets are the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the site where the Mexica settled. Join our community of educators and receive the latest information on National Geographic's resources for you and your students. Causeways that doubled as dikes connected the island to the mainland and separated freshwater from saltwater, protecting the chinampas. The Aztec capital is built on water in the middle of a large lake. Like most European empires, it was ethnically very diverse, but unlike most European empires, it was more a system of tributes than a single unitary form of government. The city established by the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, grew to become the capital of their empire. 1145 17th Street NW These inhabitants were divided into several social strata. The Aztec Empire was an example of an empire that ruled by indirect means. Today, Mexico City is still one of the largest cities in the world, despite its unusual setting. The city is very big. Fortunately, the site was a strong, strategic area with good sources of food and clean water. artificial islands created above the waterline. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost a million visitors a year since the Aztec/American economic blockade was interrupted. Tenochtitlán, located in the heart of what is now Mexico City, was the largest city and capital of the Aztec Empire. The capital of the Aztec Empire was Tenochtitlan which is now the site of the modern-day Mexico City. Each zone contained 20 calpulli (districts), crossed by tlaxilcalli (streets) that connected to large causeways leading to the mainland. It was located on an island in Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. It’s 400 kilometers from the sea. Located at the site of modern Mexico City, it was founded c. 1325 in the marshes of Lake Texcoco. The fall of Tenochtitlan took place about two years following Hernán Cortés’ arrival in Aztec territory. They used dams to implement irrigation techniques in the valleys. The largest of them was Lake Texcoco. Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, was founded by the Aztec or Mexica people around 1325 C.E. The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection@natgeo.com for more information and to obtain a license. It contained massive buildings, and it was known for its temples, along with it being a center of power and wealth. Anthropology, Archaeology, Social Studies, Ancient Civilizations, World History, Storytelling, This illustration describes how the Aztecs chose the location for Tenochtitlan. Header Image – Painting of Tenochtitlan Ceremonial Center – Image Credit : Gary Todd – Public Domain. The Aztec practice of dredging fertile muck from the lake's bottom. At the top were local rulers (teteuhctin), then came nobles (pipiltin), commoners (macehualtin), serfs (mayeque), and finally slaves (tlacohtin). The Aztec expansion began under. Why was Tenochtitlan chosen as the capital of the Aztec Empire? Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service. The city has 300,000 people. The Aztec king welcomes all the men. They were allowed to govern themselves as long as they sent tribute to Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital city. The capital city of the Aztec Empire was Tenochtitlan and was first established in 1325 in the Valley of Mexico. Report broken link Tenochtitlan: Capital of the Aztec Empire (Ancient Cities of the New World) - Kindle edition by Rojas, José Luis de. Learn more about the rich cultures and lives of these early civilizations. The Aztec built their capital city, Tenochtitlan, on Lake Texcoco. The capital of Tenochtitlan was divided into four even sections called campans. Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society Tenochtitlan eventually reached an area of more than 13 square kilometers (five square miles). Adjacent to Tenochtitlan, a dissident group also founded the altepetl of Mexico-Tlatelolco (“Place of the Spherical Earth Mound”) with its own dynastic lineage. Washington, DC 20036, National Geographic Society is a 501 (c)(3) organization. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. Texcoco and Tlacopan. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource. The cylindrical structure is near the huge Metropolitan Cathedral built over the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, now modern day Mexico City. These two empires came face to face in 1428 CE with the Tepanec War. According to mythology, the Mexica were searching for a destined home, where “an eagle with a snake in its beak, perched on a prickly pear cactus”. Each of the four sectors had its own services, including a religious precinct, and was occupied by craftspeople like weavers, sculptors, and potters. © 1996 - 2020 National Geographic Society. The Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, is found dead. Tlatelolco, sister city to Tenochtitlan, had the grandest market, drawing 60,000 people to it daily. It was the capital city of the Aztec empire. For thousands of years, this area was populated by groups such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Toltec, and Aztec peoples. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Mexica had formed a triple alliance with. A great deal of Tenochtitlan was destroyed in the fighting, or was looted, burned, or destroyed after the surrender. The historic region of Mesoamerica comprises the modern day countries of northern Costa Rica,  Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and central to southern Mexico. Atop the single complex were two temples, one for Tlaloc, the god of rain, and one for Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. From Tenochca was derived the name of their great city, Tenochtitlán, and from Mexica came the name for the city that superseded the Aztecs capital and for the surrounding valley, which was applied later to the whole Mexican nation. It sits on a swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco in the Basin of Mexico, a strange place for any capital, ancient or modern. Terms of Service |  The Aztecs did not directly rule the peoples of their empire. It formed a confederacy with Texcoco and Tlacopán and was the Aztec capital by the late 15th century. In just a century, the Aztec built an empire in the area now called central Mexico. New sections of the tower at the capital’s Templo Mayor Aztec site include 119 skulls of men, women and children Archaeologists have unearthed new sections of an Aztec … The Spanish conquistadors, aided by an alliance of indigenous tribes and former tributary city-states, laid siege to Tenochtitlan for 93 days, until the Mexica surrendered on August 13, AD 1521, marking the beginning of Spanish hegemony in central Mexico. The people of Tenochtitlan were soon exposed to diseases to which they had no immunity, devasting the population, with estimates suggesting more than 50% of the region’s population succumbed to smallpox. Founded around 1325, it amassed a population of 400,000 within two centuries and became the capital in the late 15th century — by which point it was part of a confederacy with Tlacopán and Texoco (hence why the Aztec empire is also known as the Triple Alliance). , or spring unusual setting Policy | Terms of Service dikes necessary for their form agriculture... 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