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Mexico Travel - The Excursion to Jepozotlan
( Originally Published 1939 - Presented For Historical Purpose )
IN MAKING THIS EXCURSION FROM MEXICO CITY, ONE usually starts by way of POPOTLA, which is famous chiefly as the site of the TREE OF THE DREADFUL NIGHT. This tree is supposed to be the one under which Cortes sat and wept when his army passed by after the retreat from Tenochtitlan on July 2, 1520. It is a magnificent tree of the ahuehuete family. In 1872 some fanatical Indians attempted to burn the tree, but in recent years attempts have been made to recondition it. Some authorities claim that the iron fence surrounding the tree was forged from the instruments of torture used by the Inquisition, but this has not been definitely proved.
A delightful residential district and one of the favorite suburbs of Mexico City is TACUBAYA, which you will pass through next on your way out of town. There is little to see here, but if you have time, you might spend a few moments at the parish church, which is constructed largely of material from the first church built here, and the cloisters, which contain a number of Aztec relics.
Far more interesting is ATZCAPOTZALCO. The church stands on the site of the ancient Aztec slave market, and the wall surrounding it is built partially of materials taken from the old Aztec structure. Inside you will find some excellent canvases by Cabrero and Rodriguez. The Chapel of the Rosary is well worth visiting. The groves of ahuehuete trees surrounding the town are famous, for according to the legend, the ghost of Cortes' mistress, Malintzi, wanders in the grove, condemned to perpetual despair for her treachery to her own race in favor of the Spaniards.
At TLALNEPANTLA there is a church which contains the Christ of Mercy-one of the first seven images brought to the Americas. The BAPTISMAL FONT holds special interest because it was originally an Aztec sacred vessel into which were placed the hearts and blood of sacrificed victims.
Don't expend all your enthusiasm on Tlalnepantla for, at TEPOZOTLAN, you are going to see one of the finest churches in all Mexico. The church stands in a formal, colonial garden, which forms a perfect setting for the magnificence of the building. Practically the entire church is lined with gold, and the building and the altars are done in the churrigueresque style. The polychrome chapel and the paintings alone are worth a trip to Tepozotlan.
Easily combined with the same excursion is a visit to the PYRAMID OF TENAYUCA. This can be reached either from Tlalnepantla or from Mexico City by a good paved road.
The pyramid has been badly damaged by natives who have taken away the stone for other construction, but it is still worth seeing. Around the walls are stone serpents of different sizes, symmetrically arranged, and to the north and south of the pyramid are small platforms, probably representing altars, with various coiled serpents in front of them. The walls of the small platform at the foot of the staircase are covered with carvings of skulls and crossbones, and there is a fresco with the same motif inside.
A mile north of Tenayuca is the PYRAMID OF SANTA CECILIA. This is very much like Tenayuca; except in motif. Here the decoration centers mainly around human skulls, rather than snakes. The pyramid has been much damaged.
In LOS REMEDIOS stands the shrine of that Virgin who is the rival of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Her fame in no way compares with that of her rival, perhaps because during the revolution for Mexican independence, when the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe graced the banners of the revolutionists, the image of the Virgin de los Remedios was carried on the banners of the Spaniards. Los Remedios is a picturesque place, with an impressive AQUEDUCT, which greatly enhances the surrounding scene.