UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, also known as “Templo Mayor de Tenochtitlan”, “Huei teocalli” Moreiras Reynaga, Diana; Mendez, Israel Elizalde


The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan was built by the Mexica (Aztecs) once they settled on an island (Tenochtitlan) in the Basin of Mexico during the Late Postclassic Period (1200-1521 CE). This temple was built to honor their patron deity, the sun and war god, Huitzilopochtli. This temple was placed at the center of the Mexica universe and religious cosmovision. It was rebuilt at least seven times during the several reigns of Mexica Emperors ("tlatoani"). It was approximately 47 m high and there were two shrines at the top, one dedicated to Huitzilopochtli and another to Tlaloc, the god of rain and earth's fertility. Since its discovery in 1978, the Templo Mayor Project team (PTM-INAH) have excavated this temple and its surroundings, uncovering over 200 sacred offerings filled with archaeological artifacts, ecofacts, and human remains. Each offering has its own meaning and representation in space and time (i.e., "cosmograma" in Spanish), depending on the type of ritual and the deity it was dedicated to. It's a very complex site with a lot more to find since part of it remains underneath the downtown core of present-day Mexico City making its excavation a challenge. All in all, this was the most sacred temple of the Mexica and everything revolved around this place as their most sacred precinct.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International