Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/191

This page has been validated.
185
XOCHICALCO.

pendicular height about three hundred feet. The opinion has been hazarded, that the whole mass is artificial; but it is one I cannot entertain for a moment, as its whole position and general configuration shows it to be one of the group, though there is no doubt but its entire surface, great as it is, has been subjected to a general design, and cased from its summit to its base with artificial work. The decay of centuries, at the same time that it has injured many of the details, yet allows the general plan to be detected. Even the broad moat, which encircled the whole, remains perfectly distinct.

Alighting from our horses at the foot of the hill, which is partially covered with dry brushwood and leafless trees, we scrambled upward from one stage to another, over the crumbling stonework, which, from its steepness occasionally, rendered advance difficult. Four terraces apparently, made the entire circuit at regular intervals of elevation, though occasionally they were not easy to detect, from the accumulation of rubbish.

The intermediate slopes are covered with platforms, bastions, pyramidical and rectangular elevations and stages, one above the other, and other erections of which I can neither describe the exact forms nor guess their appropriation. It is evident that all were faced with the same uncemented stonework, and were accommodated to the natural moulding of the hill, which, however far from regular, was conical in its general outlines. Upon a platform in connection with the highest terrace, we were obliged to leave our horses, before we climbed up a steep, stone-faced declivity, evidently pyramidical in its structure, to the summit.

Thence we commanded a wide view over the neighbouring hills and plains—a scene of matchless sterility, glaring in the noonday sun; and we now saw, that in addition to the paved road from the north which I have mentioned, there were others of precisely the same construction, running towards the "House of Flowers," as to a common centre, from other points of the compass.

From the summit we proceeded to the northward into a hollow square, situated at a somewhat lower elevation,