Templo Mayor

The Templo Mayor or Great Temple (called Hueteocalli by the Aztecs) was the heart of the Aztec empire, a site where people would come to worship their gods. It was also a place of sacrifice, where human beings were killed as offerings to the gods.

The temple was built in 1325, and it served as the main religious centre for the Aztec Empire and the very centre of the Aztec world.

The temple was constructed on the site of an earlier temple, which had been built by the Aztec ruler Ahuizotl. The Templo Mayor was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun.

It was also the scene of state occasions such as coronations and the place of countless human sacrifices where the blood of the victims was thought to feed and appease two great gods: Huitzilopochtli, god of war and Tlaloc, god of rain.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Mexico City
El Zocalo
One of the world’s biggest city squares with an iconic Bandera monumental, which was once the ceremonial centre of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. Today it is known as Plaza de la Constitución.
Catedral Metropolitana
The Catedral Metropolitana in Mexico City is one of Mexico’s most iconic structures and a monument to the country’s history and the largest cathedral in Latin America.
Chapultepec Castle
Chapultepec Castle is an immense stone edifice that sits atop a hill in the heart of Mexico City built by the Spanish in 1725 as a large manor house for their viceroy and commander-in-chief of the colony, New Spain.
Museo Nacional de Historia
Shows Mexico's history from Cortes to the 1910 Revolution
Basilica de Guadalupe
The Basilica of Guadalupe, officially Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, dates back to 1709 and it houses the famous cloak with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Tlatelolco was the most important commercial centre in pre-Hispanic times. In Nahuatl, Tlatelolco can be translated to "terrace" (Tlatelli) or "sandy point" (Xaltilolli).

Related Tours

The Historic Heart of Mexico City: Private Half-Day Walking Tour
Embark on a journey through 700 years of history in the heart of Mexico City and discover its historic centre on a pleasant walking tour stopping at many of the most popular and important landmarks that not even the locals know. Your professional tour guide will share with you anecdotes and curious facts that will make your tour a cultural experience that you will never forget.

On this private half-day tour, you will:

  • Start your tour at the Anthropology Museum, where you will see the Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec calendar, the Coatlicue;
  • Discover the Statue of the Foundation of Tenochtitlan, about 50 meters tall located at the "El Zócalo",
  • Visit Templo Mayor, the most important building in the city of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) as it was the place where the religious ceremonies were performed;
  • Enter the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, one of the oldest and largest in Latin America;
  • Learn about "El Zócalo", officially known as Plaza de la Constitución, one of the recognisable places in Mexico and the main square of the city;
  • Walk along Francisco I. Madero street, one of the original pedestrian streets named after an important figure of the Mexican Revolution;
  • Visit the Church of the Profesa, a 16th-century Jesuit church;
  • See the Palace of Iturbide, a massive 18th-century mansion located in the historic heart of Mexico city;
  • Explore the House of Tiles (Casa de Los Azulejos), an 18th-century palace covered in hand-painted tiles;
  • Learn about the history of the Plaza Manuel Tolsá, the sculpture El Caballito (The Little Horse), the Palace of Mining (Palacio de la minería) and the Postal Palace (Correo Mayor or Main Post Office).

The centre of Mexico City is an area full of important places, and when walking around the Zócalo, it's common to experience a sense of awe. The square has been at the centre of Mexican history and culture since the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan and, with independence, the square has come into its own. 

With a huge flag above you, your guide will talk about the square’s history – an open space for the Aztecs even before Hernan Cortes chose to pave it – and how it is a focal point for Mexicans today. It is a tale which has seen conquerors, from Hernan Cortes to Winfield Scott, and political machinations behind the walls of its surrounding buildings. 

To the north of the Zócalo lies the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral). The largest cathedral in the Americas, it boasts a multitude of architectural styles which your guide will be happy to point out as you go around what was once named the “sinking cathedral”. 

Built using stones from the Aztec Great Temple, or Templo Mayor, the cathedral is not far from the ruins of that sacred site for the Aztecs. Walking through its ruins, your guide will tell you how the monumental building arose in layers over time, as well as the grisly details of the Aztec religion. 

The site marks where the Aztecs, in the period of their history when they were a nomadic tribe without a home, felt a divine command from the god Huitzilopochtli to be fulfilled when they saw an eagle eat a snake on a cactus. It was gradually built over a shrine marking the spot and many human sacrifices were performed at the top. 


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