MEXICO CITY PANORAMA – Mexico City view from the Cathedral towers is beautiful. You then perceive at once the situation of this Capital of the Montezumas. It lies almost in the centre of a valley encircled by mountains. In the distance, glittering like a belt of quicksilver, is a line of six lakes, which have often been a source of peril to the city on account of disastrous inundations. Immediately below the towers is the Plaza Mayor, the great square of the city, which was 400 years ago an open space in front of the Aztec temple. On one side of this extends the enormous National Palace, built by the Spaniards more than two hundred years ago. Since that time it has been the headquarters of the various governments, with which poor Mexico has been blessed or cursed There lived for example, during their brief reign, Maximilian and Carlotta, ill-fated victims of Napoleon’s dream of empire in this western world; there President Diaz has his official rooms to-day and within its large enclosure are the National Museum and the Post Office. Upon the space which this enormous structure occupies rose formerly the Imperial residence of the Aztec Sovereigns. In looking down thus on the Mexico City one recollects that at the time when Cortez captured and destroyed it, it was a kind of Venice. The Indians, for purposes of defense had chosen a lake for their abode, and Mexico City was thus intersected by miles of those liquid streets so charmingly described by Prescott in his story of the Conquest. The Spaniards, however, filled up most of the canals, and in process of time the lake itself dried up and disappeared. On a clear day from the Cathedral towers the grand volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, are distinctly visible, rising like cones of frosted silver on the sky. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)


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