Mexico Built A Replica Of Famous Templo Mayor And Mexican Twitter Is Responding In Memes
For the better part of August, officials in Mexico City have been constructing the largest ever replica of the famous Templo Mayor – an Aztec temple destroyed by Spanish forces in the 16th Century. On Friday, the temple came to life as part of a grand opening celebration with a light show and performance attended by President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Now, as the country marks the 500th anniversary of the fall of the ancient capital and the start of Spanish colonialism, many in the country are struggling to figure out how to mark the occasion – is it a celebration, a time to mourn, both, or something else?
Famed Templo Mayor is reconstructed in the heart of Mexico City.
Officials have reconstructed a 52-feet-tall replica of the famous Templo Mayor in the heart of Mexico City’s central plaza – El Zocalo. The mostly white structure is adorned with small red and blue towers in an attempt to capture the grandeur of the original, which was as high as a 15-story building.
The original building dates back to 1321 and was full of important symbolism.
According to Mexico City’s Culture Minister Vannesa Bohórquez López, three platforms represented skulls, snakes and water and the towers on top were chapels dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, the patron deity of Tenochtitlán (the Aztec name for the city that would eventually become Ciudad de México.)
President AMLO attended the event’s grand opening in a ceremony on Friday to commemorate five centuries since the fall of the ancient city. The replica will stand in El Zócalo through the end of the month and features a 15-minute short film about the founding of Tenochtitlán.
The Templo Mayor was a sacred temple destroyed by the Spanish during their conquest of the Aztec Empire.
Today, all that remains of the Templo Mayor are series of ruins just off the city’s main square that are a popular tourist destination. Interestingly enough, they were only discovered in the late 1980s following excavation work for a new hotel.
The temple complex was the heart of the Aztec world where two deities were worshiped with elaborate offerings and dedications. But the temple was destroyed by Spanish invaders during the Conquest and fall of Tenochtitlán on August 13, 1521. Following its destruction, the Spanish built a Roman Catholic church nearby using many of the same stones from the ancient temple.
The director of the events, Argel Gómez Concheiro, described the significance of the original temple. “For the [Aztecs] it was the center of the universe. It was the point at which one could enter the underworld and the different celestial levels,” he said.
The temple’s celebration comes as President AMLO works to highlight the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest and 200 years of independence from Spain. In fact, he recently requested an apology from the Spanish monarchy and the Vatican for human rights abuses committed during the Conquest; which was flat out denied by both governments.
Opening night at the temple was a major event but not everyone supported the celebration.
Friday’s events were attended by thousands of chilangos who came out to see the piece of history – and its accompanying light show. Tens of thousands of spectators packed into el zócalo, many not using masks despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the city.
To many, the over-the-top presentation was another ploy by the leftist president to draw attention away from his failed policies and attempts at improving poverty in the country, while spending precious government resources on a glorified light show. However, some were happy to see the federal government work so hard to highlight the history of Indigenous Mexico and tell the story of a nation that exited long before the arrival of Spanish invaders.
Some on social even compared the opening night to a scene from The Simpsons.
As soon as images from opening night made it to social media, many thought the scene looked like it came straight out of The Simpsons. Many pointed to the eighth season’s (from 1997) episode entitled ‘Homer’s Mysterious Journey.’
In that episode, Homer eats a very hot chili pepper and embarks on a mysterious journey that includes surreal animation to describe the elaborate hallucinations. On the trip, he questions his relationship with Marge when, suddenly, a coyote appears as his guiding spirit or nahual. After a brief conversation in a structure very similar to the one made on Friday night at the opening of the Templo Mayor replica, he tells her to look for her soul mate and then he disappears.
And, of course, Mexican Twitter memed the heck out the event.
Like this Twitter user who compared the temple’s unique light show to the Taco Bell colors.
Mexican Twitter never disappoints.
If you find yourself in Mexico City through the rest of August, you can experience the light show for yourself. The short film called Memoria Luminosa will be projected three times each evening from August 13 to September 1 at 8:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
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