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How Did They do That?

Built on an island in the middle of a lake, the Aztec capital grew into an awe-inspiring mega-city that stunned its European discoverers

TENOCHTITLÁN

HOW DID THEY DO THAT?

The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán was founded in 1325 when, according to legend, the Mexica people had a vision of an eagle eating a snake atop a cactus. They believed this was a sign from the gods that they had reached the spot where a great city was destined to be built. And despite being on a small, muddy island in Lake Texcoco, Mexico, an immense complex of temples, bustling marketplaces and sophisticated infrastructure was born. At its peak, Tenochtitlán was home to a quarter of a million people, making it one of the world’s largest cities. It continued to thrive until 1521, when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés captured the city.

A GROWING CITY

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

The February 2016 issue of History Revealed