roman catholic cathedral

Archaeologists discover Aztec ball court in heart of Mexico City

The remains of a major Aztec temple and a ceremonial ball court have been discovered in downtown Mexico City, shedding new light on the sacred spaces of the metropolis that Spanish conquerors overran five centuries ago, archaeologists said on Wednesday.

The discoveries were made on a nondescript side street just behind the city’s colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral off the main Zocalo plaza on the grounds of a 1950s-era hotel.

The underground excavations reveal a section of what was the foundation of a massive, circular-shaped temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl and a smaller part of a ritual ball court, confirming accounts of the first Spanish chroniclers to visit the Aztec imperial capital, Tenochtitlan. Read more.

reuters.com
Archaeologists discover Aztec ball court in heart of Mexico City
The remains of a major Aztec temple and a ceremonial ball court have been discovered in downtown Mexico City, shedding new light on the sacred spaces of the metropolis that Spanish conquerors overran five centuries ago, archaeologists said on Wednesday.

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) shows to the media a new Aztec discovery a ritual ball court, during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Diego Prieto, director of the Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media during a news conference about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

A model of the major structures of the ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, including the temple to the wind god and ball court, as seen outside the ruins of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

A new Aztec discovery of the remains of the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, is seen during a tour of the area, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, an archaeologist from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media during a news conference about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

The remains of a major Aztec temple and a ceremonial ball court have been discovered in downtown Mexico City, shedding new light on the sacred spaces of the metropolis that Spanish conquerors overran five centuries ago, archaeologists said on Wednesday.

The discoveries were made on a nondescript side street just behind the city’s colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral off the main Zocalo plaza on the grounds of a 1950s-era hotel.

The underground excavations reveal a section of what was the foundation of a massive, circular-shaped temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl and a smaller part of a ritual ball court, confirming accounts of the first Spanish chroniclers to visit the Aztec imperial capital, Tenochtitlan.

“Due to finds like these, we can show actual locations, the positioning and dimensions of each one of the structures first described in the chronicles,” said Diego Prieto, head of Mexico’s main anthropology and history institute.

Archaeologists also detailed a grisly offering of 32 severed male neck vertebrae discovered in a pile just off the court.

“It was an offering associated with the ball game, just off the stairway,” said archaeologist Raul Barrera. “The vertebrae, or necks, surely came from victims who were sacrificed or decapitated.”

Some of the original white stucco remains visible on parts of the temple, built during the 1486-1502 reign of Aztec Emperor Ahuizotl, predecessor of Moctezuma, who conquistador Hernan Cortes toppled during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Early Spanish accounts relate how a young Moctezuma played against an elderly allied king on the court and lost, which was taken as sign that the Aztec Empire’s days were numbered.

The building would have stood out because of its round shape among the several dozen other square temples that dominated the Aztecs’ most sacred ceremonial space before the 1521 conquest.

Aztec archaeologist Eduardo Matos said the top of the temple was likely built to resemble a coiled snake, with priests entering though a doorway made to look like a serpent’s nose.

Once excavations finish, a museum will be built on the site, rubbing shoulders with modern buildings in the capital.

Mexico City, including its many colonial-era structures with their own protections, was built above the razed ruins of the Aztec capital, and more discoveries are likely, Matos said.

“We’ve been working this area for nearly 40 years, and there’s always construction of some kind … and so we take advantage of that and get involved,” he said.

Noyon Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Noyon)

A Roman Catholic church and former cathedral, located in Noyon, France. It was formerly the seat of the Bishopric of Noyon, abolished by the Concordat of 1801 and merged into the Diocese of Beauvais. The cathedral was constructed on the site of a church burned down in 1131 and is a fine example of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture.

Der Kölner Dom is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Köln (Cologne), Nordrhein-Westfalen in Northwestern Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop, the administration of the Archdiocese, and a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. Construction commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 1800’s and was completed to original plan in 1880. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the 2nd-tallest spires (after the Ulm Minster, also in Germany). Its two huge spires give it the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir has the largest height to width ratio, 3.6:1, of any medieval church. Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. The completion of Germany’s largest cathedral was celebrated as a national event in August 1880, 632 years after construction had begun. The celebration was attended by Emperor Wilhelm I. 

The cathedral, being very near to the central railway station, suffered 14 hits by aerial bombs during WW2. It didn’t collapse, but remained standing in an otherwise flattened city. The great twin spires are said to have been used as an easily recognizable navigational landmark by Allied aircraft raiding deeper into Germany in the later years of the war, which may be a reason that the cathedral was not destroyed. Repairs were completed in 1956. In the northwest tower’s base, an emergency repair carried out in 1944 with poor-quality brick taken from a nearby war ruin remained visible until 2005 as a reminder of the war, but then it was decided to reconstruct this section according to its original appearance. Visitors can climb 509 stone steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 100 m above ground. The platform gives a scenic view over the Rhein.

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V. O. Hammon Publishing Co. booklet, “Souvenir of Minneapolis in Colors”, 1910s. 

 - Bird’s Eye View
- Minnehaha Falls
- Calhoun Boulevard
- St. Anthony Falls
- Hotel Radisson
- Scene at Lake Minnetonka
- St. Marks Episcopal Church
- Powers Mercantile Co.
- Minneapolis Court House and City Hall
- Steel Arch Bridge and Union Depot
- Old Block House, Fort Snelling
- Nicollet Avenue West From Sixth Street
- Nicollet Avenue at Night
- Minkhada Golf Club
- Stevens House
- New Roman Catholic Pro-Cathedral
- Minnesota State Soldier’s Home
- Hotel Nicollet
- Metropolitan Life Building
- Park Bridge No. 1
- Minnehaha Falls
- Minnesota State Capitol Building
- Donaldson’s Glass Block
- The Anchorage, Lake Calhoun
- Milling District By Moonlight in Winter
- Hotel Dyckman
- Typical Building in Wholesale District
- Stone Arch Bridge
- Milling District
- West High School
- Nicollet Avenue East From Sixth Street
- View Along Harriet Boulevard
- Pier at Shady Island, Lake Minnetonka
- Shubert Theatre
- Masonic Temple
- Racetrack at Minnesota State Fair Grounds
- Public Library
- Auditorium Building
- Post Office Building
- General View of the University of Minnesota
- Bridal Veil Falls
- West Hotel
- Security Bank Building
- Bridge Over the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling
- Folwell Hall and Physical Laboratory
- Plymouth Building
- Seventh Street North from Nicollet Avenue
- Loring Park Showing Hotel Plaza
- New Bridge Over Mississippi River at Fort Snelling
- Minnehaha Falls in Winter