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Many centuries ago, when the Mexica arrived in the Valley of Mexico, they were looking for a place to establish their city. Following the prophecy of their god Huitzilopochtli, they found an island in the middle of a lake, where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus, devouring a snake. There they founded Tenochtitlan, the great city of the Mexica. But Tenochtitlan was not alone on the lake. To the northeast, stood another city, older and more mysterious: Teotihuacan, the city of the gods. The Mexica admired and feared Teotihuacan, as they believed that the suns and moons were born there, and that its pyramids kept the power of the gods. Among the wonders of Teotihuacan, there was one that especially attracted the attention of the Mexica: the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the god of the feathered serpent. The temple was a large pyramid decorated with sculptures of feathered serpents and chimeras, which represented the duality between heaven and earth, water and fire, life and death. The Mexica believed that the Temple of Quetzalcoatl was the center of the world, and that the feathered serpent that adorned it was the spine of the universe, connecting all levels of existence. They also thought that the feathered serpent was the protector of Tenochtitlan, and that its spine extended from Teotihuacan to the island of the Mexica, forming an invisible line that gave them strength and vitality. Thus, the Mexica built their city following the orientation of the feathered serpent, and worshiped it in the Templo Mayor, where they raised an image of Quetzalcóatl next to that of Huitzilopochtli. They also laid out a causeway that linked Tenochtitlan with Teotihuacan, to facilitate trade and pilgrimage. Thanks to the blessing of the feathered serpent, Tenochtitlan prospered and became the capital of a great empire, which dominated many peoples of Mesoamerica. The Mexica resisted wars, plagues and droughts, trusting in the power of Quetzalcoatl and his spine. But everything changed when the Spanish arrived, led by Hernán Cortés. The Spanish brought with them firearms, horses and unknown diseases, which decimated the Mexica. They also brought a thirst for gold and conquest, which led them to attack Tenochtitlan. The Mexica defended themselves bravely, but they could not avoid the siege and hunger that weakened them. In addition, the Spanish had the help of some indigenous peoples, who hated the Mexica for their tributes and sacrifices. Among them were the Tlaxcalans, who were Cortés‘s first allies. The Tlaxcalans knew the secret of the feathered serpent, and they revealed it to the Spanish. They were told that if they destroyed the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan, they would break the backbone of the universe, and with it, the resistance of the Mexica. The Spanish did not hesitate to follow the advice, and sent a group of soldiers to Teotihuacan. The soldiers arrived at the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and attacked it with fury. They tore off the sculptures of the feathered serpents and threw them on the ground. They set fire to the temple, and reduced it to ashes. As they did so, they felt a great roar, as if the world was shaking. At that moment, in Tenochtitlan, the Mexica felt a sharp pain in their back, as if a thousand knives were stabbing them. A rain of blood fell from the sky, and the lake was dyed red. The Mexica knew that the feathered serpent had been desecrated, and that its spine had been broken. Without the protection of Quetzalcóatl, the Mexica lost hope and the will to fight. The Spanish took advantage of the opportunity and launched the final assault on the city. After a fierce battle, they took the Templo Mayor, and captured the last tlatoani, Cuauhtémoc. This is how Tenochtitlan, the great city of the Mexica, fell on August 13, 1521. The Spanish destroyed the city, and built the new capital of New Spain on its ruins: Mexico City. But under the stones, the remains of the feathered serpent remained, waiting for the day when it would reunite its spine, and restore the balance of the world.

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 The Temple of Quetzalcoatl is the center of the world and the feathered serpent is the spine of the universe.
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