Monday, May 11, 2009

Pyramids in the Projects? - Tlatelolco, Mexico City


Where else in the world would you find an ancient Aztec archaeological site complete with temples, sacrificial altars, and pyramids slap bang in the middle of a huge sprawling modern concrete housing estate?? Pyramids in the Projects?? Why Mexico City of course!! Where else?

Plaza de Las Tres Culturas, Tlatelolco is situated in the heart of Mexico City, just a little North of the Zocalo and Plaza Garibaldi, and is so named because it symbolises the mixing of Pre-Hispanic and Spanish roots into the Mexican "mestizo" culture, although most people now view the third culture as the modern housing estate and the tall glass tower which is the Centro Cultural Universitario housing a gallery and temporary exhibitions opened in 2007. Here you can see the juxtaposition of all three - the Aztec pyramids of Tlatelolco, the Spanish Templo de Santiago (built in 1609 using stones from the pyramids themselves), and the modern apartments of contemporary city life in Mexico City....

It is a very interesting site to spend an hour or two wandering about, soaking up the atmosphere and different layers of history....


But unfortunately this site also has a dark shadow cast by more recent Mexican history. It is in fact Mexico's own Tiananmen Square, as a week before the Olympics on October 2nd 1968, this plaza witnessed the massacre of hundreds of student protesters caught up in the wave of youth rebellion and resistance around the world...


This memorial is a reminder of what still remains the worst hushed-up scandal in recent Mexican history with official deaths put at 20 and more accurate estimates placing the death toll nearer to 400 . President Diaz Ordaz, anxious for the Olympics to proceed smoothly ordered the heavy-handed tactics, but no-one is sure who gave the orders for the actual massacre, and even after a more recent enquiry under President Vicente Fox, no real answers have emerged. The powerfully striking Siquieros mural housed in the Plaza nearby seems to echo the violent and bloody history of this country.....

On a lighter note my first view of Mexico City before I came to live here, was on screen in the wonderfully quirky black and white existential 2005 Mexican "comedy" called " La Temporada de los Patos ( Duck Season ) filmed right here in one of the flats in these Projects of Tlatelolco..


I remember feeling at the time, a little apprehensive and disconcerted that this may be what the whole of Mexico City might look like, but wandering around here by myself yesterday with my camera in hand, it felt very friendly and laid back chatting with people and talking about the area.....it soon became just one of Mexico City's many distinctive urban faces which makes this place so diverse and fascinating to explore. What are the different faces of the city you love to discover??

To see the many faces of other places around the world, click here for MyWorldTuesday.

20 comments:

chrome3d said...

That is one amazing pairing, project and pyramids. Quite funny actually. Every place has it´s old scars.

magiceye said...

wonderful informative post!

Marites said...

Imagine that, an ancient archelogical site right smack in the middle of moden housing estate. That is quite interesting and I do hope that its shadowed past will remain a lesson for everybody.

My world is here

Guy D said...

Wow did I learn alot from this post, thanks so much. Pics are great also.

Have a great week!
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Leanne said...

Another great post how terribly sad that so many lost their lives.

Leanne said...

Me again Moonta is on the Yorkes Peninsula in South Aust.

Wolynski said...

Oddly enough, the old and new pyramids seem to be in harmony, but the old ones will last much longer.

fishing guy said...

Cathrine: I must say that is unusual to build so close. It almost takes away from the site. Thanks for sharing from our southern neighbor.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

The choice of placement for cities does not really vary much over human history (location, location, location!). And so, human artifacts tend to layer one upon the other. Refreshing that the past wasn't simply buried to build the latest layer.

Thanks for sharing!

koala said...

Very interesting post! I can actually imagine another place were ancient pyramids would meet 1970's concrete. If we only had ancient pyramids;)

zeal4adventure said...

How interesting to have old and new so close to each other. Love the Spanish templo as well, I think it made the pyramids more interesting.

Carver said...

This was a great post. I love the contrast between the ancient and the new. Also glad there is a memorial for the tragic massacre.

Arija said...

At least it has not been build upon as such a lot of historic sites elsewhere have, and it is a bit of open space for all those living in the stacked boxes.

Catherine said...

Hi everyone - Chrome, magiceye, Marites, Guy, Leanne, Wolynski, fishing guy,Cecile, Koala. Zeal, carver. Arija - thanks so much for stopping by this week and for all your appreciative comments made about this contrast between the old and new cheek by jowl in the city.....much appreciated!

A Cuban In London said...

A brilliant example of blog-reporting. This is what Arianna Huffington meant when she wrote in the Guardian yesterday that the way forward for the media was to open up to citizen journalism more. As long as it was well-researched. Yours is. I was familiar with the Mexico massacre. As your rightly averred, it could not have been worse concealed. Everybody knew about it. The estimates I have read give a death toll of 300, so give or take you're probably right. Those pyramids should be erected all the way across Latin America and the Caribbean because like or not, we all have mestizo cultures, or mulatto as we call them in Cuba.

Many thanks for such informative post.

Greetings from London.

Hey Harriet said...

Mexico City has everything! I didn't know about that tragic massacre of students that you mentioned. How very sad.

Elisabeth's bright side said...

Being from the 68er generation myself. I wagely remembered. I wish the pyramids would be rebuilt :)

Clara said...

What an amazing combination of times. I love the shot of the pyramid, church, and apartments. I had never heard of the massacre in 1968. It was a tough time everywhere and it's sad that it turned so violent in Mexico City.

Delwyn said...

Catherine,
thanks for an interesting and informative post.
Aren't we fortunate to receive and education from all around the world via the blog machine?

You must be a real adventurer...have you taught in many countries?
Happy Days

Owen said...

Hi Catherine, just wanted to say THANKS for the other references you left for me, will be looking closer as soon as I have a minute, work is hell this week... really appreciate though, and will be looking more closely at this latest post too...