The floating Aztec city

Mexico City and Gulf of Mexico, 1524. Mexico City-Tenochtitlan (right, West at top) was the capital of the Aztec Empire. This city was built on an island in the centre of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The city was connected to the surrounding areas by several causeways across the lake. The city was conquered by the Spanish (led by Cortes) in 1521. The map at left shows the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, with North at bottom. Florida and Cuba are both shown at far left. This map was published three years after the conquest, as part of a letter by Cortes to the Hapsburg emperor Charles V (Holy Roman imperial double-headed eagle at upper centre).
Mexico City and Gulf of Mexico, 1524. Mexico City-Tenochtitlan (right, West at top) was the capital of the Aztec Empire. This city was built on an island in the centre of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The city was connected to the surrounding areas by several causeways across the lake. The city was conquered by the Spanish (led by Cortes) in 1521. The map at left shows the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, with North at bottom. Florida and Cuba are both shown at far left. This map was published three years after the conquest, as part of a letter by Cortes to the Hapsburg emperor Charles V (Holy Roman imperial double-headed eagle at upper centre).

When Spanish conquistadors under the command of Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico in the 16th Century, they encountered the unique indigenous empire of the Aztecs.

The capital city of this vast, wealthy empire was a floating metropolis known as Tenochtitlan. This video reveals how the Aztecs’ mastery of engineering allowed them to create this fascinating marvel of Mesoamerica.

Video script: Ed Barrett, from the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London.