National Geographic : 1951 Dec
Church and State Maintain Headquarters on theZ6calo, Site oftheAztec "Forum" Here about 1325 wandering Aztecs, according to tribal legend, found aserpent-clutching eagle, the promised sign that they could settle down. Later they erected their massive teocalli, ortemple, where they sacrificed thousands ofprisoners, and laid outtheir tianguiz, orgreat market place. Spaniards, invading thecity across Lake Texcoco's causeways. converged victoriously onthesquare in1521. They demolished thepagan pyramid, buried itsidols, andin their stead setupgallows andbull ring. Nine main streets now empty traffic into theZ6calo; trolleys and buses make ittheir hub, butthebusiness center hasmoved away. <-Earthquake and unstable subsoil have done their worst tolevel theCathedral; timely repairs have saved it (page 786). Itsfoundations restonanedge ofthe leveled teocalli. The 24-ton Aztec Calendar Stone, or Stone oftheSun, now onview attheNational Museum, laycemented inthewest tower nearly acentury. Successor toMexico's first Christian church, built on thisspot, theCathedral was begun in1573 and com pleted in1667. Wealthy patrons lavished millions in goldand silver adornments, butcivil wars stripped most of these treasures. Onclear days thetowers' ponderous bellscan beheard formiles. Sagrario Metropolitano (right), arepository ofsacred relics, isadistinct church initself, though itisattached to the Cathedral. Opposite page: Mexico's National Palace, office ofthe President, occupies a675-foot-long block facing the Z6calo. Onthisspot Montezuma held court. Cortes, appropriating theproperty, built afortresslike residence andoffice, which rioters later ruined. The present palace, begun in1692, hasundergone renovations, in cluding Maximilian's. Anupper story ofpink volcanic stone was added asrecently as1927. Three entrances pierce thefacade. Above thecentral doorway hangs theLiberty Bell rung bypatriot Miguel Hidalgo ontheeveoftheWar forIndependence, Sep tember 15,1810. Each September 15now thePresident stands onthebalcony and voices Mexico's famous grito, or independence cry. Three Lions, Inc.