Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/91

This page has been validated.

thus striking, those presented by the capital are not less so. In both its general plan and position, and the solidity and grandeur of its details, it has impressed me with a greater idea of splendour than any city I have seen in either hemisphere.

It covers with its suburbs an area of probably upward of three miles square, occupying the central portion of that extended oval which was covered by Tenochtitlan at the time of the conquest.

The Plaza Major, or principal square of the new city, corresponds with that of the old. The cathedral is based on the ruins of the great temple or Teocallis; the palace of Cortez, the Casa del Estado, rises on the very spot on which Montezuma held his court; and many of the principal streets at the present day are conducted precisely over the same ground as the more noted of the ancient thoroughfares.

You see the broad and well-paved way sweep through the long vista of palaces and public and private edifices, from one end of the city to the other; and the contrast between the bright blue sky above, and the screen of mountains which form the background far in the distance, enveloped in the clear aerial tints of this transparent atmosphere, combined with the variety of colouring and graceful proportions of the architecture, is more magnificent and beautiful than I can describe.

At the time of our visit, the city may be said to have exhibited an aspect of extraordinary splendour, from the circumstance, that in consequence of the ravages of the cholera the preceding year, the inhabitants throughout its limits had been compelled by public ordinance to paint and clean their houses.

The general style of building is regular and symmetrical in its outlines. The better houses are nearly of the same height; strongly built of porphyry or porus amygdaloid; rising to the third story, with flat roofs, and having lofty apartments disposed round an interior quadrangle. At the same time, in the ornaments and details of the facades, the style of the elaborate carving, the form of