According to colonial Aztec codices and chronicles the twin city of Mexico – Tlatelolco was founded by an Aztec nomadic tribe, or ‘Calpulli’, in 1338. It became known as the Tlatelolca tribe, while their immediate neighbor to the south established Tenochtitlan and was called Tenochcas. The two cities had grown together as twin settlements, Tenochtitlan as the political seat of the empire, and Tlatelolco stood out as its commercial heart. Tlatelolco means “Sand mound” and is located in what is known as Plaza de las Tres Culturas, space around which are concentrated three periods of Mexico: the pre-Hispanic (the temples of Archaeological Zone), colonial (the Church and Convent of Santiago) and contemporary (the buildings of the Nonoalco-Tlatelolco Housing Unit and El Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco ).
Templo de Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl:
This temple is an unusual mixed plant, i.e., the main body of circular and rectangular façade, with a staircase to the street looking towards the East. It was dedicated to the wind god Ehecatl, whose shrines had a typical round plan. Between 1987 and 1989 was an excavation along the front deck, where were discovered 41 burials and 54 offerings involving Marines in pots, figurines made of ceramic, stone, shell, etc. Archaeologists believe that this massive human offering was related to an extraordinary ceremony carried out during a great drought occurred between 1450 and 1455.
Altares Circulares Superpuestos:
The secondary façades are decorated with panels, each of which has three niches containing symbols of the days, in groups of thirteen, which correspond to the Mexica ritual calendar, the Tonalpohualli.
In 1989, in the center of the main façade, was discovered a mural which visitors can view in the Museo del Tecpan. On the lower part of the mural, two toothless elders are pictured facing each other: Cipactonal and Oxomoco, the creator gods of the Mexica calendar. The upper part of the mural displays the symbols of the fourth group of thirteen from the Tonalpohualli, adding up to 52 days, perhaps related to the number of years in the Mexica century.
Templo de las Pinturas:
This architecture presents the model of Talud-tablero influence Teotihuacan identical to red temples of the archaeological zone of the greater Temple of Tenochtitlan. Its platform is higher than the treads of the staircase in the main façade which is oriented to the East. The three remaining facades are decorated with reliefs depicting monkeys’ way banners and remains of the mural that decorated the facades, the boards and the ridges. Apparently, this building was dedicated to Xochipilli.
Templo Mayor- Etapa II:
This construction was undertaken approximately between 1375 and 1390 and represents the second constructive phase of the Templo Mayor (Main Temple) of Tlatelolco. The building is very similar to those of the same time period in Tenayuca and Tenochtitlan: it is oriented toward the west and presents a double stairway as well as bordering rafters which end in an upper dado. p.s. In the side and rear facades of the building visitors can see a series of glyphs carved in stone: 100 of them decorate the side of Huitzilopochtli and 50 of Tlaloc.
El Gran Basamento:
This building lies atop a stuccoes platform with three access steps on its front side. Its floor level corresponds to the fourth building stage of the Main Temple, and runs underneath a large wall built during the sixth stage. The building faces south and has a double staircase separated by a large die decorated with a nail panel, flanked one each side by a balustrade topped also by an upper die.
Límite del Recinto Sagrado:
At the northern limit of the zone is a large wall, formed by staircases, ridges and alternate central dies that runs the length and bends towards the South at its eastern corner, breaking off to the center of the northern sector to clear access to the Causeway that communicated with the Tepeyac. This structure, circling around the sacred enclosure, it is likely have been the Coatepantli or “wall of serpents”, framing the space dedicated to the gods.
Altar Tzompantli del Norte:
It is a structure of rectangular plant with its access stairs west facing. The southern wooden is decorated with a glyph that represents a human hand. In 1963, is located 170 human skulls product of sacrifice by beheading, which were located near the rear facade of the building. This type of skulls drilled at the height of the temples was placed upon the altar which was called Tzompantli or “wall of skulls”.
Iglesia de Santiago/聖地牙哥教堂:
The Church of Santiago Tlatelolco was built after the conquest of the 13 August 1521; the victors chose the place where the Aztecs had resisted the military onslaught for over 80 days. In January 1522, Hernán Cortés decided to construct a city and erase all evidence of the Prehispanic greatness. He designated Tlatelolco as natives’ dominion under the control of Cuauhtémoc and the name of Santiago. The first Church in Tlatelolco, which was built with the stones of the prehispánico Templo Mayor, was inaugurated in 1527. The Church was dedicated to Santiago, the patron saint of the hosts of Cortés, and was left in the care of the Franciscan. Originally the Church was single-nave and 1540, as Motolinia, ‘he had three ships’, which indicates that it was the second building. The third building under the direction of Fray Francisco de Gamboa, which apparently took a long time, was launched in 1573. In 1585, the Church was flanked by the hospital and the College of the Santa Cruz. Fray Juan de Torquemada inaugurated it in 1610, with the appearance it has to present. The Church was in service until the Reform, when it was looted and abandoned. In the late 19th century, Porfirio Diaz propelled development of railroads and the surroundings of the church changed. In the northern terrain yards, rails, warehouses and train unloading areas were installed. Aduana del Pulque (Pulque Customs) was built in the northeast terrain, a structure controlled to present by the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores /the Foreign Affairs Ministry (SRE). The Temple of Santiago Tlatelolco was used as warehouse and the convent turned into a military jail until 1944, when the team leaded by Pablo Martinez del Rio recommended that the church should be open again to cult.
The main façade is oriented to the West. Their quarry home is divided into three sections and flanked by the body in slope of the bases of the towers, perhaps as a souvenir of the ridges of the Templo Mayor.
Santiago, the militant patron saint of Spain whose mythic crushing of the Moors was frequently portrayed in art, was widely credited with the victory and the success of the Conquest. A vivid relief showing the saint trampling his foes underfoot, some pointedly in indigenous headdresses, remains in the church to this day.
Convento de Santiago/Colegio de la Santa Cruz — the first higher education institute of the Americas
The extensive convent beside the church was also the seat of the College of Santa Cruz. The school was built by the Franciscan order on the initiative of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and Bishop Juan de Zumárraga on the site of a previous Aztec school for young nobles called Calmecac. However, because of their mixed loyalties and considered unsuitability the native students were denied that privilege. Ironically the educated indigenous eventually became teachers to the Spanish elite. The school was inaugurated on January 6, 1536; however, it had been a functioning school since August 8, 1533. In 1546 the Franciscan order gave the responsibilities of the administration of the school to the indigenous priests who had been educated there but by 1605 the school ceased to have governmental support and by the mid seventeenth century it was abandoned and in ruins.
A new cultural center, El Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco (CCUT), opened by UNAM in 2007 in an annex to the convento with galleries and conference facilities. This building was the former headquarters of the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (the Foreign Affairs Ministry).
Plaza de las Tres Culturas/三文化廣場—三種文化，一部歷史 The Plaza de las Tres Culturas is the main square within the Tlatelolco neighborhood of Mexico City, symbolizes Mexico’s unique cultural heritage.
The plaza, designed by Mexican architect and urbanist Mario Pani Darqui (March 29, 1911 – February 23, 1993), was completed in 1966. It contains the remains of Aztec temples and is flanked by the Santiago de Tlateloco Catholic Church, built in the 16th century, and a massive housing complex (the Unidad Habitacional Nonoalco- Tlatelōlco) built in 1964.
p.s. The Unidad Habitacional Nonoalco- Tlatelōlco is the largest apartment complex in Mexico, located in the Cuautemoc borough of Mexico City. It was built in the 1960s by architect Mario Pani. Originally, the complex had 102 apartment buildings, with its own schools, hospitals, stores and more, to make it a city within a city. It was also created to be a kind of human habitat and includes artwork such as murals and green spaces such as the Santiago Tlatelōlco Garden. Today, the complex is smaller (90 apartment buildings) than it was and in a state of deterioration, mostly due the effects and after effects of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. This quake caused the immediate collapse of the Nuevo León building with others being demolished in the months afterward. Further earthquakes in 1993 caused the condemnation of more buildings. In addition to the lost buildings, many residents eventually undersold or abandoned their apartments, as repairs were either never made or made poorly.
The Plaza de las Tres Culturas is also important as being the site of three terrible events in Mexican history: It was at Tlatelolco that on August 13, 1521 the Aztecs made their final stand against the Spanish army led by Hernan Cortés. It is said that 40,000 Aztecs died in the desperate struggle and their bodies clogged the local canals for days afterward.
The battle is memorialized in the plaza by a plaque— “On 13 August 1521 Tlatelolco, so heroically defended by Cuauhtémoc, finally fell into the hands of Hernán Cortés. It was neither a triumph nor a defeat; it was the painful moment of birth of the Mexico of today, of a race of Mestizos". p.s. mestizos指的是歐洲西班牙與人與美洲原住民印地安人通婚所形成的新混血拉丁民族。
The second tragedy occurred on 2 October 1968 when Mexican soldiers, equipped with tanks and machine guns, fired into a crowd of 14,000 unarmed students who were staging a protest against spending on the 1968 Summer Olympics being held in Mexico City.
Finally, the plaza was the site of more death on September 19, 1985 when an early morning earthquake caused a modern building adjacent to the plaza to collapse. For days thereafter tents were erected on the plaza as temporary shelter for some of those left homeless by the quake. The earthquake, which affected Mexico City, left at least 8,000 dead.