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Baños de Moctezuma

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Photo: Aarón Hdez on Wikimedia Commons
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The Baños de Moctezuma, literally the Baths of Moctezuma, go by a number of names. The Chapultepec Baths or pools, are among a few others.

The site preserves a number of pools from the ancient period. These are known to have been preserving water from the Chapultepec springs and likely were enjoyed by the Nobility. The same springs later sent water via an elevated aqueduct into ancient Tenochtitlan.

A tlatoani named Chimalpopoca requested that the aqueduct be built in 1381. Unfortunately, the aqueduct was never quite adequate to the needs of the City. It’s often cited as one of the reasons for the conflict that eventually led to the formation of Triple Alliance against the Tepanec people of Azcapotzalco. The pools were built as improvements to the aqueduct beginning in 1466 in a project led by Nezahualcóyotl. That project is known to have increased the level and pressure of water in the aqueduct and to have begun irrigation of the Chapultepec Forest.

Hernán Cortés destroyed parts of the aqueduct and the reservoir system during the siege of Tenochtitlan. He ordered them rebuilt after the conquest. After 1740, the volumes of water were noted to have fallen and they were entirely closed in 1929.

The original Baños de Moctezuma included a number of reservoirs to the east of the Squad 201/Tribuna Monumental. The pool shown above is likely the oldest, although it has been extensively restored.

The popular legend that the tlatoanis swam and bathed here has some basis in fact. Most likely they would have used pools designated for irrigation, rather than water destined for consumption, as is believed to have been the case through the mid-19th-century.

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