The canals ran red with the blood of both Aztec and Spanish on a terrible night of destruction named La Noche Triste (The Sad Night).
Crowned by towering feathers, arms heavy with thick bands of gold and a clacking necklace of Jaguar’s teeth, a sculpted and proud figure sits a top a huge stone throne.
Intricate carvings on the imposing seat celebrate the triumph of the sun and all that is held scared to the people of the Aztec empire. Their lands are at their most expansive, stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, seized and dominated through brutal warfare, human sacrifice and canny diplomacy. But in just seven short months this resplendent lord would be dead and his empire in tatters.
In November of 1519, Spanish invaders led by Hernán Cortés arrived at the floating Aztec capital city Tenochtitlan. The arrival of a white god having been prophesied, the conquistadores were welcomed into the inner sanctum of the great emperor Montezuma’s palace. It was rumored across the seas that riches unlike the world had ever seen were held deep within the palace walls and the Spanish were determined to set eyes on them.
Ingratiating himself as a loyal ally, the wily Cortés won the trusting friendship of Montezuma and was soon invited to explore his mountain of golden treasure. Mad with jealousy, the Spanish took the emperor captive and seized all his gold, silver and glittering gems.
As rumours spread like wildfire through the city, the people of Tenochtitlan became restless. The Spanish turned on the citizens to quell the rising rebellion and violence exploded through the streets. As a last attempt to quash the angry tide, Cortés paraded Montezuma before the people showing that their great ruler had succumbed to Spanish rule. This only added fuel to the fire and the furious mob stoned Montezuma to death.
In the ensuing madness, the canals ran red with the blood of both Aztec and Spanish on a terrible night of destruction named La Noche Triste (The Sad Night). The Spanish were forced to flee the city leaving most of the beloved treasure behind.
It is said that this same night, taking advantage of the confusion, the slaves and warriors still loyal to the emperor Montezuma gathered up all the gold they could find and ran for the hills, hiding the famous riches in a cave so secret and hidden that to this day it has never been found.