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The Peñón del Marqués is known too as the Peñón Viejo. The Rock of the Marquis, or the Old Rock, was also long known as Tepepolco, meaning simply “the Great Hill” in the Nahuatl tongue. It stood out during ancient times as an island in the extension of the Texcoco Lake. Moctezuma, the Mexica emperor, maintained some kind of country home or palace here.
The peak is perhaps best known today for the nearby, and likewise named, Metro station. It’s also sometimes mentioned as a northernmost peak of the Sierra de Santa Catarina the rest of which makes up most of the southern border of Iztapalapa.
During ancient times, the Tepepolco island was visited by the Emperor Moctezuma. He’s said to have maintained some type of country home (or palace) here. The island also had ritual significance as the site of an annual feast in honor of the rain gods.
During the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlán, Hernán Cortés established a stronghold on these slopes. On May 31st of that year, he began his crossing of the lake in 13 wooden boats. Here Cortés faced some 500 canoes full of Mexica soldiers determined to protect Tenochtitlan. Cortés eventually won with just 150 troops. He held onto the island for its strategic importance to his impending attack on the City.
The name was later changed to honor him as the “Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca,” the Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca. In August of 1847, during the invasion by the United States, the former island, now a mere peak, became the headquarters of Antonio López de Santa Anna. He again fortified it along with Mexicaltzingo, San Antonio, and the Churubusco Monastery. This was in order to defend against the USA troops advances from Puebla.
Today the Peñón Viejo is home to a well-regarded spa, especially favored by local kids and families. The Cabeza de Juárez monument is just one of the sites that stands out in the magnificent views from above.