The Most Beautiful Thing in the World
When Cortés and his men reached Tenochtitlán they were stunned. This, indeed, was a City of Dreams.
On November 8, 1519, the Spaniards marched along the causeway leading into the city. The towers, temples and canoes were thick with crowds who gathered to gape at the men and their horses.
The two processions met at the entrance to Tenochtitlán. Montezuma was in a litter draped with fine cotton mantles and borne on the shoulders of the lords. He emerged from the litter and placed necklaces of gold and precious stones round Cortés' neck. Cortés placed a necklace of pearls and cut glass around the neck of Montezuma, but was held back by two lords when he tried to embrace the emperor.
The Aztecs led the Spaniards into the heart of the city where Montezuma showered them with more gifts and then quartered them in sumptous apartments.
The Aztecs knew about the massacre in Cholula and believed that the Spaniards could be irrationally and unpredictably cruel. It was as Tenochtitlán had given shelter to a monster. An Aztec account relates how the people of Tenochtitlán felt:
"as if everyone had eaten stupefying mushrooms..., as if they had seen something astonishing. Terror dominated everyone, as if all the world were being disembowelled.... People fell into a fearful slumber...."