Xochimilco, Mexico

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

Borough of Mexico

Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco

Registration Year


Historical function

Political and cultural

Location and site

Mexico City and Xochimilco are in the heart of the Anahuac Valley (Valley of Mexico). Situated at 2,250 m. above sea level, they are surrounded by high volcanic summits. The World Heritage Site includes the historic and archaeological areas of the Templo Mayor and Xochimilco.

Urban Morphology

The Zocalo, a quadrangular esplanade in the historic center of Mexico City, adjacent to Templo Mayor, was superimposed on the earlier urban square of Tenochtitlan, and the gardens of Xochimilco testify to the lacustrine works of the Aztecs. The heart of Mexico City was conceived according to a rectilinear plan, the arteries of which were traced on the earlier dikes. The new Spanish city possessed no ramparts as the waters surrounding it provided its defense. The colonial architecture of the center of Mexico City presents a coherent ensemble that is enhanced by the use of “tézontle”, a volcanic material. The facades of the buildings that border the Zocalo Esplanade vary in style from Baroque (and Churrigueresque) to Neoclassical. The nearby ruins of the Templo Mayor testify to the different stages of the expansion of Tenochtitlan, as well as to its Aztec past.

Registration Criteria

Criterion (ii): From the 14th to the 19th century, Tenochtitlan, and subsequently, Mexico City, exerted a decisive influence on the development of architecture, the monumental arts, and the use of space first in the Aztec kingdom and later in New Spain.

Criterion (iii):  With its ruins of five temples erected before the Great Pyramid, and in particular the enormous monolith of Coyolxauhqui, which symbolized the end of the old cosmogony and the advent of Huitzilopochtli, the tribal god of the Aztecs, the monumental complex of the Templo Mayor bears exceptional witness to the cults of an extinct civilization.

Criterion (iv):  The capital of New Spain, characterized by its checkerboard layout, the regular spacing of its plazas and streets, and the splendor of its religious architecture (Cathedral, Santo Domingo, San Francisco, San Jeronimo, etc.) and civil architecture (palace of the Marqués de Jaral de Berrio), is a prime example of Spanish settlements in the New World.

Criterion (v): Having become vulnerable under the impact of environmental changes, the lacustrine landscape of Xochimilco constitutes the only reminder of traditional ground occupation in the lagoons of the Mexico City basin before the Spanish conquest.

Historical Reference

  • In 1325 the Aztecs, who settled in the Valley of Mexico in the 14th century, erected their capital, known as Tenochtitlan (later Mexico City), in the midst of the islands and swamps of the lagoon of Lake Texcoco. A holy city surrounded by ramparts was then integrated into the ensemble and a network of canals and floating gardens were laid out.
  • The heyday of this Aztec tribe, known as the Mexica, occurred in the 15th century, when the Empire, which had reached its maximum size, controlled trade routes extending as far as the Gulf of Mexico. This was also a time of religious reform when human sacrifice was advocated.
  • In 1519 Cortés and his troops crossed the pass leading to the valley in search of gold. At that time, the city of Moctezuma II was the most prestigious center in the New World. In collaboration with tribes who were hostile to the Aztecs following their religious reform, Cortés subdued and sacked Tenochtitlan in 1521.
  • The construction of the new capital, Mexico City, was undertaken following the Spanish victory on the site of the Tenochtitlan and its adjoining holy city. The drainage of the lagoon was not undertaken until the 18th century.

Source : https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/412/




Sr. José Carlos Acosta Ruiz

Alcalde de Xochimilco

Guadalupe I. Ramírez #4, Barrio El Rosario
Xochimilco, México
C.P. 16070

[email protected]