National Geographic : 1951 Dec
Mexico's Booming Capital 807 the Cathedral's bells pealed. Colonial palaces glowed with red and green neon lights, fiery balloons floated across the sky, and boys played with firesticks snatched from bonfires. Masked Youths Dance by Torchlight Youths in Indian masks and feathered caps danced around a kind of Maypole. They danced in the Z6calo! The place evoked images of the Aztecs, who made the square their forum. On this spot they erected their massive teocalli, or "House of God." Cor t6s's men, under attack at a distance, saw their captive comrades slain atop the pyramid in 1521.*r Later the Spaniards demolished the teocalli and substituted the Ca thedral (page 790). They established the New World's first bull ring in the square. Thousands Sacrificed by Aztecs Subsoil of the Z6calo remains a reliquary of heathen art-flat-faced idols and stone serpent heads. Here Mexicans uncovered the 24-ton Calendar Stone, or Stone of the Sun, which looks like an immense mill stone. For almost a century they kept it em- bedded in the Cathedral. I saw that stone in the National Museum, a , part of the National Palace, which fronts the Z6calo. Its companion * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: 'Pyramids' of the New Vendors Sell Gorditas (Little Fat Cakes) in Honor of the Virgin World," by Neil Merton Judd, January, 1948; and December 12, anniversary of the Virgin's appearance to a humble Indian "On the Cortes Trail," by 420 years ago, attracts such enormous throngs to the Guadalupe shrine that Luis Marden, September, thousands camp in the open; they crowd the Basilica (above) until move 1940. ment becomes all but impossible (pages 796 and 797).