Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Colombia chapter History has to say about the impact of the Spanish on the Aztecs:
The Spanish Arrive
Ancient Mexican civilization, nearly 3000 years old, was shattered in two short years by a tiny group of invaders. They destroyed the Aztec empire, brought a new religion, and reduced the native people to second-class citizens and slaves. Rarely in history has a thriving society undergone such a transformation so fast.
So alien to each other were the newcomers and the indigenous Mexicans that each doubted whether the other was human (Pope Paul III declared indigenous Mexicans to be human in 1537). Yet from their traumatic encounter arose modern Mexico. Most Mexicans today are mestizo, of mixed indigenous and European blood, and thus descendants of both cultures.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The following day we had a light breakfast and set off to explore the historic centre. We moved from one attractive plaza to another and around noon we arrived at the Templo de la Santa Cruz de Los Milagros. There is a large open plaza in front of the church and we were thrilled to see men, women and children in full costumes, taking a break from performing traditional Aztec dances.
Somehow, in our broken Spanglish, we managed to learn that they would perform again in an hour, so we strode off to see the aqueduct from the nearby viewpoint, and planned to return to see the dancers once they were in action again.
We returned just as they were getting underway and the sight they made was astonishing. A group of drummers where pounding out rhythms to guide and rev up the dancers, and the drumbeats reverberated off the surrounding stone buildings. It was an unforgettable sight to behold.
Click here to see a short video of the drumming: Aztec Drumming
I circled around the large group several times, getting photos of the individual costumes, marveling at the athleticism of the dancers.
Suddenly, the dancing stopped, and the circle of dancers moved to the centre of the plaza where what I assumed to be high priests created an altar of sorts and began to conduct a ceremony with religious icons and the burning of some kind of combustible material.
When they were done, they formed a procession facing away from the church at the head of the plaza, and surprised me by hoisting a simple structure topped by a Christian cross, draped in a purple sash and decorated with a garland of fresh flowers. They began to make their way out of the plaza and I assumed their performance was over.
However, they simply crossed the street into another open-air venue, and arranged themselves in a circle to begin dancing once again. I was curious to see how things would progress, and now that I had taken plenty of photographs of their elaborate costumes, I found a place for us to perch on the edge of a fountain, behind the drummers, where I could watch the dancing with more focus.
After a while, we felt it was time to move on, but as we made our way out of the crowd, I noticed a little girl standing with her mother at the edge of the square. I had taken plenty of pictures of the adults, but wanted one of this child if possible. I gestured to the girl and then her mother, and received a nod from both of them. How sweet they were. The photos show the care and attention that went into making the pint-sized costume and how proud the little girl was to be wearing it.