The Maya, Aztec, And Inca In Spanish Explorer’s Log

Visit to Palenque

I am in a unique place called Palenque, an ancient Maya city. The journey there was long; the city has long been abandoned, and only the emerald jungle and the breathtaking ruins of the stepped pyramids remain from it. Our calendar shows Palenque died around the 9th century (Jarus, 2012). There is a hypothesis that the city was inhabited by tribes from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Others claim that the gods were angry at Palenque, and a terrible drought forced people to flee the city.

However, this city was great and populous and crowded from ancient times. There were mentions of it from about the 10th century B.C. when the ruler called Snake Spine got the throne (Jarus, 2012). Nearby, there was a deposit of soft limestone used for grandiose construction. I learned Maya believed in three patron deities, because they built temples for them and covered them with reliefs (Jarus, 2012). Knowing the bloodlust of their rulers, I would not be surprised if terrible sacrifices were made here.

April 15, 1520

Visit to Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was another abandoned Maya city; although there were small settlements of Indians around, they used the ruins as a pilgrimage site. The ruins are imposing, although heavily damaged due to the wars between the Maya and the Toltecs that took place here in the 10th and 11th centuries (“Chichen Itza”). In the 9th century, this city was the capital that controlled the entire Yucatan. I learned that people lived richly and comfortably in Chichen Itza because the buildings were densely built, and the streets were paved, and the roads were everywhere. Now archeologists have found a temporary capital here.

April 28, 1520

Visit to Lake Texcoco

Texcoco was the capital of the Acolhua people, belonged to the Aztec civilization, and was a major center of culture and education. I learned that people here were engaged in agriculture and gardening because there is a canal network in the city. Trade is the business of the elites here, but everyone can hunt and raise cattle. The Indians told a lot about the great ruler Netzahualcoyotl, who concluded the Triple Alliance with the Maya and the Inca and took control of the entire eastern basin of the valley in the last century. He started a massive construction and built a temple to the god Tloque Nahuaque, “the unknown god, creator of all things” (Cartwright, 2022, p. 8). Until its descendants, this city remained a vital center of Aztec resistance.

May 10, 1520

Visit to Tenochtitlan

Tenochtitlan was a prosperous Aztec city in 1520. This city can be compared with European grandeur: its streets are wide and straight. The reason why there are many channels is that the city is located on a lake island. I learned that residents were engaged in many different activities, from trade and metallurgy to agriculture (Jarus, 2017). This is due to the fact that there is a market square, a sports ground, and temples for the local wind god Ehécatl in the city (Jarus, 2017). A sacred territory is located in the city’s center, which consists of more than 70 buildings (Jarus, 2017). The Aztecs have a writing system similar to hieroglyphics; they have written laws, and religious and economic texts.

May 19, 1520

Visit to Cuzco

Cuzco is the capital of the Inca Empire, which is located high in the Andes. Cuzco is distinguished by the fact that it is the place of residence of the nobility. Ordinary people could not settle, live, or trade there. I learned that the elite lived in Cuzco because there were a lot of rich palaces there. They worshiped the sun god Inti, making him a vast Coricancha temple (“Inca Empire”). It is said that earlier, this temple was covered with gold (“Inca Empire”). It is truly a beautiful city, which indicates the recent prosperity of the Inca Empire, led by their leader, who is called the Sapa Inca.

June 2, 1520

Visit to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located in the mountains, northwest of Cusco. Valiant conquistadores have not yet been able to reach this hard-to-reach place, and I am one of the few Spanish visitors here (“Machu Picchu”). I learned that this place was intended only for the residence of the nobility because, in the mountains, there is a complex of more than a hundred buildings, among which there are baths, palaces, estates, sanctuaries, and temples (“Machu Picchu”). The Incas moved there to hide from the mission because it was not easy to find them this way.

July 12, 1520


Inca Empire for Kids: Cuzco City. (2019).

Machu Picchu. History. (2011).

Jarus, O. (2012). Palenque: Maya city of Temples. LiveScience.

Jarus, O. (2017). Tenochtitlán: History of Aztec capital. LiveScience.

Chichen Itza. (2018).

Cartwright, M. (2022). Texcoco. World History Encyclopedia.