The Great Temple, the Templo Mayor, is what many visitors expect to find at the much better attended Museum of Anthropology. The difference is that the Anthropology Museum has the mission of collecting and educating on all of the cultures of Mexico. The Templo Mayor is dedicated just to understanding and exploring the center, and to a great extent, the empire, of Mexico-Tenochtitlán. The museum is part of the archaeological zone to the north and east of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
The Templo Mayor site includes a series of constructions, buildings, pyramids and shrines. The main tower had two teocalli shrines atop and from there, one could stroll down onto all of the most important aspects of the political, religious and economic life of the city. Today, all of this is complemented by a major museum whose permanent collection is among the most important in the city.
In the early 1980s, initial excavations uncovered no fewer than 7,000 objects. Many of them were effigies, clay pots in the image of Tlaloc, skeletons of turtles, frogs, crocodiles, and fish; snail shells, coral, some gold, and alabaster. There were also Mixtec figurines, ceramic urns from Veracruz, masks from what is now the state of Guerrero, copper rattles, and decorated skulls and knives of obsidian and flint. Excavations have continued to this day, and continue to reveal more and deeper insight into the city’s earliest years.
All of them are on permanent display. Visitors to the museum also get a deep dose of what life in the ancient city was like. The museum is centered around the moon goddess disc, dedicated to Coyolxauhqui, (pictured below), but the value to the city in the museum is incalculable and of primary importance for any visit to Mexico City.