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Misterios Area

The Misterios area flanks both sides of the old Calzada de los Misterios. This route is of incalculable historical interest for it continues the old Atzacoalco Route north from the city center of ancient Tenochtitlan. The route crossed the celebrated dike (albarrada) built by the emperor Nezahualcoyotl in 1449. The route thus connected the city with the important ceremonial center of Tepeyac. The goddess Tonantzin Coatlaxopeuh was honored here, and may even provide a Nahuatl origin for the word Guadalupe. The ceremonial and ritual connections are well documented.

The route was one of just three great causeways that connected the ancient city with the mainland. The others were today's Mexico-Tacuba Causeway  to the west and the Calzada de Tlalpan to the south.

Today the Calzada is especially remembered for the 15 monuments lining the east side. These were proposed and largely designed by architect Cristóbal de Medina Vargas in the 1670s. Construction began in 1675. Construction of the Calzada de Guadalupe, a sister street to the east, began only in 1786, more than a hundred years later. Together, the twin streets only elevated the pomp and ceremony long associated with the arrival of new Viceroys during the colonial period. They would traditionally seek the blessing of the Virgin Mary prior to proceeding down the Calzada for their first entry into Mexico City. This blessing of course took place at the Basilica.

Eight of the original monuments remain. The other seven were reconstructed between 1997 and 1999. It's perhaps important to note that during a pre-television period of widespread illiteracy, these monuments served not only a religious role. They needed to capture the attention of a population that would see no other imagery of any kind during the course of their daily lives. While the 17th century remains heavily shrouded in the fog of history, these few monuments can perform a similar role even today.

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