Tlatelolco, Mexico City

Tlatelolco (Classical Nahuatl: Tlatelōlco /tɬateˈloːɬko/, or Tlatilōlco, from tlalli land; telolli hill; co place; literally translated “In the little hill of land”) is an area in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City, centered on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. The square is bounded by an excavated Aztec archaeological site, the 17th-century church designed by Fray Juan de Torquemada and dedicated to St James the Great (known as Santiago de Tlatelolco), the remains of a former Franciscan convent to which was formerly attached the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, and an office complex that used to belong to the Ministry of Foreign Relations and is now the property of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.


Historical events of modern Tlatelolco

The Nonoalco-Tlatelolco housing project, built in the 1960s, is served by Metro Tlatelolco. The complex includes the pyramid-shaped Banobras building, which houses a 47-bell carillon. At 125 meters, this is the world’s tallest carillon tower. A building with a facade of white marble is the former home of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE). It is now used by the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

In 1967, the Treaty of Tlatelolco signed here, with the aim of establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then, all the region’s countries have signed and ratified the treaty.

On October 2, 1968, ten days before the start of the 1968 Summer Olympics, the plaza was the scene of the Tlatelolco massacre. More than 300 student protesters were killed by the army and police who were trying to suppress the protests.

On September 19, 1985, many housing buildings were destroyed or suffered damages due to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. The “Nuevo León” building collapsed but became a symbol of the Mexican people’s solidarity during the disaster as they worked together to rescue people caught in the ruins. A small square marks this spot. Among the many who had family there, the opera singer Plácido Domingo labored to help to rescue survivors.


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