Welcome to the first edition of "Play,"
a new series of posts that will aim to
document all sorts of fun to be had in the D.F.
This weekend we paid a visit to what is perhaps
Mexico City's most identifiable landmark
--La Plaza de la Constitucion--most often
colloquially referred to as EL ZOCALO.
As you might imagine, this vast plaza
(one of the largest in the world)
was once the center, not only of the
post colonial Mexico City, but of the
pre-hispanic Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan.
For centuries before the Spanish conquistador
Hernan Cortes arrived and marveled at the
glory of the bustling Aztec capital, this precise
space served as a sacred and significant space for
the Mexica people and their advanced civilization.
The Spanish were quick, however, to replace the
native with the new, and today there is little
reminiscent of the Aztec aesthetic.
Instead the Zocalo is replete with Spanish influence
and architecturally could easily be mistaken for one
of the countless plazas that anchor Spain's grandest
cities. Sevilla, in particular comes quickly to mind.
It was in 1521, a mere two years after
first arriving in Tenochtitlan, that Cortes
had the entire city leveled, only to later
use its rubble to pave the Zocalo as we
know it today.
He also insisted on using the ruins of Moctezuma's
palace to build his own-- the present day seat of
federal power in Mexico, El Palacio Nacional.
In spite of its harrowed past and hurried
pace, El Zocalo is peaceful somehow,
beautiful in its chaos, and revealing in
more ways that I might have imagined.
Its origins hidden beneath centuries of
stone and a tremendous sense of wonder.
But its true character seems palpable,
no matter the transformations that this
"center of the universe" (as the Aztecs proclaimed)
has undergone--and perhaps has yet to.
Thanks for tuning in--
see you tomorrow for something yummy!