The Empire the Mighty Aztecs Failed to Conquer

  • Stephanie Mendez
  • BBC Travel

circular pyramids

Credit, Brian Overcast/Alamy Stock Photo

photo caption,

The ‘yácatas’ (pyramids) of Tzintzuntzan are circular and unique, made of volcanic stone – perhaps the best preserved relics of the Purépecha people

“This is the legacy of our people,” my uncle would say as we admired the pyramids.

We were not in Egypt, but in the city of Tzintzuntzan, State of Michoacan, in southwestern Mexico.

The pyramids, or yácatasTowering before us were round and unique, made of volcanic stone—perhaps the best-preserved relics of the Purépechas, a pre-Columbian indigenous group that once ruled here but most people are unaware of. In fact, I had never heard of them until a few months ago, when I discovered that I am a direct descendant of that people.

Born and raised in California, USA, I grew up not knowing this part of my heritage, which was lost in my family with the death of my grandfather in 1978. My grandmother was left with five children and no income. But after a lot of savings, she took my father and his brothers from Mexico to the US in 1983.

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