Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com
This pearl in in the south of Estado de Mexico is truly magical.
We are about to see a very interesting piece of Mexican history.
First, to little surprise, there is stairs. Everything you want to see in Mexico is up, you have to walk up high mountains, volcanoes or, as in this case, steep stairs. 358 stairs to be exact. But it is well worth it.
Here we find a heaven for archaeologists with one of the best preserved Aztec sites in Mexico.
Cuauhtinchan, an Aztec sanctuary built on, or rather carved into, Cerro de los Idolos, a hill just west of the little town Malinalco.
There seems to be various theories of what the different buildings were used for.
The main building, called house of eagles, was used for rites and rituals. This is where the young men of the Aztecs became warriors.
Walking in the footsteps of nervous boys becoming proud jaguar and eagle warriors I tried to see myself in their situation. Walking the few last steps passing the stone warrior and finally entering the room for the ceremony.
The orientation of the house of eagles relates to the stars and movements of the constellations, and openings in the walls created light phenomenas at sacred days of the year. Considering the building is carved out from the rock does not make it less impressive.
Other buildings as ”Temple IV” is build allowing the first rays of the sunrise fill the room with light. A temple to worship the sun sounds like a reasonable theory.
What ever the use, these buildings are amazing examples of architecture of the pre-Columbian people.
On our way down to the town we found a museum, Doctor Luis Mario Schneider University Museum, exhibiting the history, and mythology, of the area. There is also a full scale replica of Cuauhcalli, the house of eagles, for a closer look. The museum it self was interesting, but I didn’t like the museum guides walking with us from hall to hall, not leaving us room, or time, to explore the exhibitions on our own.
Malinalco is a traditional, and beautiful, old Mexican town. Cobblestone streets and houses made of adobe painted in bright colors. In every other garden I saw trees with blossoms and ripe fruit. With all this botany you can find all kind of fruits among the street stands and vendors, the colors and smells are almost breath taking.
I do miss a café though, I am constantly surprised these small towns don’t have any coffee places.
In the center of the town an old monastery stand firm, build in the 16th century it has thick wall and being unusual high for a small town church it looks more like a medieval fortress than a place of evangelization. With Malinalcos history of magic, sorcery and worship long before the Spaniards and the Christian church came, maybe it is a little bit of both.
The interior of the monastery is covered in murals done by indigenous artists. A never ending project is trying to restore the walls to their original face.
Finally I had a whole, sunny day without rain and with the magnificent surroundings the nature showed it self in all its glory.