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The Zócalo. Political and Cultural Center of Mexico . Tenochtitlan. Aztec name for present day Mexico City Founded in 1325 – on Lake Texcoco Urban built environment divided into four zones One of the largest cities in the World in 1519 . Spanish Conquest.

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the z calo

The Zócalo

Political and Cultural Center of Mexico

  • Aztec name for present day Mexico City
  • Founded in 1325 – on Lake Texcoco
  • Urban built environment divided into four zones
  • One of the largest cities in the World in 1519
spanish conquest
Spanish Conquest
  • Hernán Cortés arrives on November 8, 1519
  • Moctezuma II believed Cortés to be the returning god Quetzalcoatl
  • Aided by local tribes, Cortés conquers and destroys most the city
  • Mexico City’s Zócalo is located at the original central plaza and market of Tenochtitlan
mexican independence 1810 1821
Mexican Independence (1810 – 1821)
  • Miguel Hidalgo, a parish priest
  • Led a peasant rebellion against the wealthy land owners
  • Mexico marks its independence on September 16, 1810
  • 1815 to 1821, most the fighting was done by guerrilla forces
  • José María Morelos y Pavón takes over for Higalgo
  • Treaty of Córdoba sealed Mexican independence
mexico usa compete for control of north america
Mexico/USA compete for Control of North America
  • Texas fights for independence opens the conflict
  • Mexican American War
  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ratifies U. S. dominance
templo mayor as an urban structure
Templo Mayor as an Urban Structure
  • 60 m high
  • Dominated the plaza with duel temples
  • Tlaloc (god of water and rain, mainstay of the crop cycle),
  • Huitzilopochtli (god of war, patron of conquests and tributes
catedral metropolitana as an urban structure
CatedralMetropolitana as an Urban Structure

Located on the Zócalo

Oldest and largest cathedral in Latin America

Baroque facade and 64m Neoclassical-style towers 18 bells each

Current cathedral built 1667, finished 1813

la ense anza church
La Enseñanza Church

Second oldest cathedral in Mexico City

Built in late 17th-18th century

Baroque style built by Francisco Guerrero

palacio nacional
Palacio Nacional

Hernán Cortés, built this government palace on the site of Moctezuma's palace.

Palacio Nacional of today dates back to 1693.

Floor was added in the 1920s.

Contains murals by Diego Rivera.

  • Portrays "Epic of the Mexican People in their Struggle for Freedom and Independence“
  • Two thousand years of history are condensed into space of an enormous wall.
political significance
Political Significance

For the Spanish - the plaza is “a manifestation of local social order, of the between citizens and the authority of the state.”

For the Amerindians – representation of Aztec plazas at the center of the cities

the tiger of the south and the centaur of the north
The Tiger of the South andthe Centaur of the North
  • Mexican Revolution of 1910 – 1917
  • Overthrew the dictator Porferio Dictator Dias
  • Revolutionaries occupied and held Mexico City 3 times - between 1914-1915)
2001 zapatistas look back to earlier revolutionaries
2001 - Zapatistas look back to earlier revolutionaries

Lead by Subcomandante Marcos

More than 100,000 people crowded the Plaza

Demand Indian Rights

Secure their place in Modern Mexico

question 1
Question 1

The plaza has played a significant role in Mexican politics in the past, will this be changed by new venues of political communication in the 21st century?

question 2
Question 2

The cultural significance of the plaza and its surrounding urban infrastructure has been great since before the Spanish conquest. What is the political significance of the urban built environment in in contemporary Mexico?

question 3
Question 3

How have contemporary Mexican governments used plazas in general , and the Zócalo specifically, to shape Mexican political culture?


"Tenochtitlan." 7 Feb. 2006 <>."The Mexican-American War." 7 Feb. 2006<>."The Spanish Conquest." 7 Feb. 2006 <>"Wars of Independence, 1810-21." 7 Feb. 2006<>.


Low, Setha M. Cultural Meaning of the Plaza: The History of the Spanish-American Gridplan-Plaza Urban Design. In the Cultural Meaning of Urban Space. Robert Rotenburg and Gary Mcdonogh, eds. CT and London. Bergin & Garvey. 1993. 75-83.

Rebels ride into Mexico City. BBC. 11 Mar. 2001. <>.


"Emiliano Zapata." Wikipedia. 8 Feb. 2006 <>.

"Who Was Pancho Villa?" The California Native. 8 Feb. 2006 <>.