Excursion to Mexico 2013

© Christine Hatzky

From 12 Febuary to 1 Mar 2013, the Department of History and the Department of Romance Studies went on an excursion to Mexico.

Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Christine Hatzky (History Department) and Prof. Dr. Lidia Becker (Romance Department), the students explored the country for almost three weeks. 

The excursion group stopped in Mexico City, the capital of the country, where they visited the centre around the Catedral Metropolitana. Under this cathedral was the former main temple of the Aztecs, which was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521. The famous Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, the former cultivation area for fruit and vegetables of the Aztecs, were also visited. 

The Mexican university UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) was of course also visited. UNAM is one of the oldest (founded in 1551) and the largest university on the Latin American continent (it now has around 300,000 students). It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. 

Of course, a visit to the Palacio Nacional, Mexico's government building, should not be missed. Apart from the fact that this is the country's seat of government, the so-called murallas (murals), which are located in the stairwell of the Palacio Nacional, are the main attraction for visitors. Famous Mexican muralists such as José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera created their murallas here. The most famous of these murals is certainly Rivera's La historia de México, which depicts a sequence of Mexican history, from the beginnings of the indigenous empires (including the Aztecs) to the independence process and the Mexican Revolution of the 20th century. 

Near Mexico City is the pyramid site of Teotihuacán - the largest pre-Columbian city. At that time, it had 150,000 inhabitants and covered an area of more than 20 square kilometres. Teotihuacán was the capital of an empire whose influence extended throughout Mesoamerica. Not much is known about the origins and life of the city's inhabitants, but scholars have found that it flourished between the 1st century AD and the 7th century. After a great fire, however, the city was abandoned by its inhabitants. Nowadays, the famous Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun can still be found there, attracting visitors from all over the world. 

The excursion group also visited the city of Guanajuato, northwest of the capital. It was a former silver mining town that produced about 20% of the world's silver between 1558 and 1808. Since 1988, it has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

A visit to the towns of San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo were also part of the Mexico excursion. In the small town of Dolores, for example, the foundation stone of Mexican independence was laid. On the morning of 16 September 1810, the priest Miguel Hidalgo triggered the movement that would lead to Mexico's secession from the Spanish crown in 1821 with his Grito de Dolores (German: Cry of Dolores).