Building Mexico–Tenochtitlan in the Sixteenth Century
By 1524, the agents of Spanish colonial governance had begun the design and construction of Mexico City on the foundations of the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. Spanish documents from that era emphasize the orderliness of the new city and the classicism of its architectural forms, conjuring the image of an urban space devoid of the massive Aztec temples and palaces that had stood there just decades earlier. A close reading of those documents together with related maps and archaeological research, however, presents a different picture of the city and the symbolic buildings framing its main plaza, the spatial predecessor to the Zócalo we see today.
Michael Schreffler’s research centers on the art and architecture of the transatlantic Spanish world in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is the author of Cuzco: Incas, Spaniards, and the Making of a Colonial City (Yale University Press, 2020) and The Art of Allegiance: Visual Culture and Imperial Power in Baroque New Spain (Penn State Press, 2007). His work, which has also been published in journals such as The Art Bulletin, Renaissance Quarterly, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, examines the ways in which representation—in the form of visual images, architectural ornament, and descriptive texts—facilitated change in colonial Spanish America.
The Mexico Virtual Lecture Series is a recurring online event intended to highlight the deep connections between Notre Dame and Mexico. Each lecture focuses on the current work of a Notre Dame faculty member or researcher, covering topics that vary widely from medical research to the social sciences and arts and culture.
The series is intended for a general audience and can be viewed via Zoom. Pre-registration for the session is requested and the Zoom link will be made available once registration is received.
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Originally published at mexicocity.nd.edu.