Once again I reveal to you how much I didn’t know before I traveled and hopefully how much I’ve learned in the process of traveling, usually without really even trying. That’s right, it’s time for some learnin’. Once again, WHDIGH.COM shouts out…
“I DID NOT KNOW THAT”
Last time I DID NOT KNOW THAT Mexico City was built on top of a giant lake and because of that fact the giant metropolis is now sinking! This installment of the Well, How Did I Get Here? Series : I Did Not Know That features a summarized history of Antigua, or La Antigua Guatemala. At one time Antigua, Guatemala was the capital of almost all of Central America and also of the Chiapas region of southern Mexico. The history of Antigua has been dramatically influenced by the history of other cities within Guatemala. Due to changing circumstances the capital of the Spanish colony of Guatemala has changed several times. The final relocation of the capital is a fundamental reason why Antigua is the way it is today.
In 1524 the Spanish conquistadors established the first capital of the Spanish colony in Iximche. In November of 1527 the capital was moved to the Valley of Almolonga after several uprisings by the Cakchiquel Mayans. Today this is the location of the city named Ciudad Vieja. This capital city was destroyed by a devastating mud flow from Volcan de Agua on September 11, 1541. After the destruction the capital was moved once again, this time five miles away to the Valley of Panchoy where modern-day Antigua sits.
Volcan de Agua looming behind a street in Antigua, it was a mudslide from this volcano that destroyed the 2nd capital of Guatemala and prompted the relocation of the capital to Antigua
As I’m traveling I often come across things that surprise me. My usual response to these instances can usually be summed up as “huh, I did not know that.” So in honor of these times when I actually do some learnin’, I present the first series here on WHDIGH, “I Did Not Know That“.
While I was in Mexico City basically almost everything that I experienced could fall under “I did not know that.” I was clueless as to most of what Mexico City was about or had to offer. In fact, I almost skipped the capital of the country until a price for a flight came along that was too good to pass up.
As I began researching the city before my departure I became increasingly excited about going. The amount of museums alone could occupy your time for weeks! As an American all I had heard about Mexico City previously was the amount of pollution and the massive population. So, all in all, I guess I wasn’t that hard to surprise.
I did not know that almost the entirety of the city was built on top of a lake. Mexico City started out as an island and was expanded by the Aztecs and all of the following rulers until nearly all of the lake was drained! There only remains a sliver of the lake that once filled up most of the valley.
The Aztec city of Tenochtitlan before further expansion and draining of the lake
the center of Tenochtitlan likely looked something like this