Monument to Cuauhtémoc: The Last Aztec Emperor

The Monument to Cuauhtemoc is one of the most historically significant and symbolic statues in Mexico. It was built in 1887 and it is located in the largest avenue of Mexico City. The statue was the result of a collaboration between two prominent architects: Francisco Jiménez and Miguel Noreña.

Monument to Cuauhtémoc

The Monument to Cuauhtemoc is in the neoindigenismo style which promotes and celebrates the connection between the people of Mexico and the indigenous people of the old times. Moreover, the statue was an artistic approach to the nationalist sentiments in 19th-century Mexico which went through two major wars priorly.

Monument to Cuauhtémoc in the city square
Xavi Yanez

Through their connection with their ancestors, the people of Mexico tried to find strength and perseverance in their own blood. Therefore, the statue honors one of the legendary and tragic figures in Aztec history, Cuauhtemoc, who was the last emperor of the Aztec civilization.

Monument to Cuauhtémoc from eye level

Cuauhtemoc ascended to the throne in 1520, a very turbulent era for the Aztecs. The Spanish were attacking the empire and also bringing diseases like smallpox which would kill millions of Aztecs in a small amount of time.

Monument to Cuauhtémoc back
El Izra Breton

Afterward, the Spanish and the Aztecs went to war. Led by Cuauhtemoc, the Aztecs fought for 80 days. Although he asked for help from other communities, he did not receive any and had to make a deal with Hernan Cortez in exchange for the safety of his people.

Monument to Cuauhtémoc close up
Jesus Axel

However, Cuauhtemoc became a prisoner of Cortez who had him executed after a couple of years. Mexico believed that since he was the only survivor against the Spanish, Cuauhtemoc showed immense strength which should be an inspiration for the country.

the below stone of the statue
La Estructura Nacional

The statue depicts Cuauhtemoc in ceremonial clothes and holding a spear. It is clear that he is ready for war against invaders and other threats. Two lions lie at his feet which is a symbol of royal power. The motifs of the statue were also inspired by ancient Aztec mosaics.

the statue and the lions
Norberto Villarreal

On each side of the monument, there are either inscriptions or reliefs depicting various events. Two inscriptions state who the statue is for and by whom it was made. The reliefs show the sacrifice of Cuauhtemoc for his own people, accepting imprisonment for the safety of his nation.

the statue in the square during sunset
Isaac Jero