For the Aztecs (and later for the Spanish), La Chinantla region was valuable for its products. La Chinantla had to pay the Aztecs with gold and other products from the region. It is also believed that the vanilla that grows naturally in the jungle of La Chinantla was highly acclaimed by the Aztec empire. That is why Montezuma I founded in 1455 Tochtepec and built a ceremonial center that the inhabitants called The Castle of Montezuma (“El Castillo de Moctezuma”) or Palace of Montezuma (“Palacio de Moctezuma”) to supervise the payment of taxes.

After the arrival of the Spaniards came the fall of the Aztec empire and with it the Montezuma Castle was abandoned and forgotten for centuries. It was plundered and dynamited on multiple occasions to steal the treasures that were inside. The ruins were discovered in 1916.

Prototype of how the pyramid “Castillo de Moctezuma” used to look. Photo: @ORPnoticias

Some archeological pieces that have been recovered are in the hands of inhabitants of this neighbourhood. The Guardians Committee of the El Castillo Archaeological Center (Comité Guardianes del Centro Arqueológico El Castillo) was formed to guard and promote this archaeological site. This committee also organizes activities such as the welcoming ceremony of the spring equinox on the ruins of El Castillo.

Only vestiges remain from the great ceremonial center and you can visit it in the neighbourhood that bears the same name: “El Castillo”. It is believed that a large part of the pyramid is buried.

How the ruins look now.