Xochimilco

(FLOATING GARDENS), CUICUILCO (THE AMERICA’S POMPEII) AND UNIVERSITY CITY

 

You will get a unique experience on the south of the city visiting the following places: Xochimilco. Much of the lake territory is dedicated to chinampas. Chinampas are artificial islands created on the shallow waters of the lakes starting in the pre Hispanic period. These islands began as rafts made with tree branches and other materials which were then loaded with soil and mud from the lake bottom and tied to an ”ahuejote” or other kinds of trees to anchor them. Overtime, these rafts would sink and pile up on the shallow lake bottom and eventually become fixed islands.

As these islands multiplied in number they became separated by canals, which are necessary to keep a constant supply of water to the chinampa. The canals of the parks were created by this method. In the past, chinampas were primarily used for the growing of foodstuffs, but today most of what is raised is ornamental plants. Much of ecological system was restored over a five year period, then the area opened as a park in 1993. Most of the park’s area is an aquatic environment of lake, canal or chinampa along of some forested areas much of it planted with ahuejotes, pines and eucalyptus . Most of these chinampas have been transformed into “agro-ecological” land, meaning it is an ecological preserve and farmland at the same time. These are what made Xochimilco a World Heritage Site.[The aim of this area is to preserve an environment known to the Aztecs over 500 years ago.

In addition to the chinampas, restoration efforts expanded a lake to 54 hectares and created two smaller artificial ones of about a hectare each. Facing these waterways is the nativitas embarcadero (docks) from which trajinera boats depart, near the best-preserved chinampas in Xochimilco. ”Trajineras” are flat bottomed barges similar to gondolas.

Much of the area of the park has been chinampa land since the pre Hispanic period. Xochimilco is one of few areas left in the Valley of Mexico that still has a significant number of chinampas. The area was declared a biological reserve by the Mexican government in 1984 and a World Heritage Site in 1987 by UNESCO.We are sure that you will enjoy this experience.

Cuicuilco. University City UNAM

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