Long before the Spanish conquest, many advanced civilizations, such as the Olmecs (1400-400 BC), Mayas (250-900 AD), and Aztecs (1325-1521 AD), flourished in Mexico. They achieved great advancement in many fields, including architecture, mathematics and astronomy. During 1519 to 1521, the Spanish Hernán Cortés conquered and colonized Mexico. Mexico was under the Spanish rule for nearly 300 years. In 1810, taking advantage of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic Father, proclaimed Mexico’s independence from Spain. His declaration, known as the "Grito de Dolores" in Mexico, started the struggle for independence which lasted eleven years. In 1821, the Treaty of Córdoba was signed at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. A republic was proclaimed in 1822 and established in1824. After achieving independence, the political instability continued. In 1846, the Mexican- American War broke out. The war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, forcing Mexico to cede almost half of its territory including Texas and California to the United States. During the four presidential term of Benito Juarez (from 1858 to 1872 including as interim president), the liberal reforms were promoted. And in 1861, France invaded Mexico and eventually defeated Mexican army. France installed the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, who ruled as emperor from 1864 to 1867. President Benito Juárez kept the federal government functioning during the French intervention and restored the republic in 1867. Juárez returned to office and served as president until he died in 1872. Under the presidency of the authoritarian General Porfirio Diaz, the country achieved remarkable economic growth and political stability, however, at the same time, economic inequality and the political repression eventually led to the Mexican Revolution, which lasted from 1910 until 1920. During the Revolution, about 10 % of the country’s population was lost. In 1917, The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which is the present constitution of Mexico, was drafted and approved. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under the name of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), held power for 71 years, winning every presidential election until 2000, when Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN) won the race. The country’s economy is strongly linked to the U.S. As to tourism, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization. It ranks fifth in the world and first in the Americas on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with 31.
On the third day in Mexico City, we went to Puebla, 2 hours away from Mexico City by bus. Puebla still held an atmosphere of the era when it was colonized by Spain with a number of architectural structures built during that period. The cityscape closely resembled that of the Southern Europe.
We visited Puebla Cathedral and the Church of Santo Domingo. I had never thought that I saw such great churches in the Central America. In Puebla, I realized that suffering invasion from foreign countries meant the lost of indigenous cultures, religions and languages.
*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.
The Church of Santo Domingo was totally filled with exquisite ornamentation. It was shining in golden color. When it was built, genuine gold leafs were used for decoration.
We visited Cholula in the afternoon. There remained many ruins of pyramids which were still unexcavated. The Spanish destroyed pyramids and built churches over them with the stones used for pyramids. The guide said that the indigenous people built a system to store rainwater using stone-paved pyramids and floors because Chulula was dry and had little rain. According to the guide, the Spanish destroyed the huge pyramids one after another when the water supply became insufficient, suspecting that the indigenous people hided water in the pyramids. Some of them were restored and some remained destroyed. There was no pyramid which survived intact. When the guide clapped her hands in the site where the rituals were practiced, the sound echoed in the same way as I heard in Tikal. It sounded like a bird singing. I was convinced that the Mayan and the Aztec built the temples in the ritual sites in the way that the sound would mysteriously echo. They were really great people with advanced technology. The site overlooked the surrounding area and I noticed there were many churches there. Again, I realized the Mexican people were really religious people! The church on the hilltop also had beautifully decorated interior.
Small shops were open near the church. In the place nearby, I saw a man reproducing an old ritual for rain, the other reproducing a ritual for being adult. In that ritual, he tied his leg with rope and came down from the top of the pole with his body rotating upside down. People sold the local specialties such as honey, pea-nuts and hand-made bags, all of which had a strong local characteristics. I enjoyed such a cozy atmosphere very much.
The tour to the Mexico City ended with this.
The next day, I left Mexico City to the port in Ensenada early in the morning. I arrived at Tijuana Airport around 9 a.m., where I took a bus to Ensenada. Tijuana was located near the U.S. border. The security check in the airport was very tight. But with the nice weather and its location in the dry region, the landscape of Tijuana gave me the strongest feeling of typical Mexican atmosphere in the four-day tour to Mexico City. It was dry and hot and there were cactus-like plants here and there. It seemed that a man with a Mexican hat would be ready to appear from across the street. I could enjoy the typical Mexican atmosphere in the very end of the trip to Mexico.