West of Reforma, Calle Hidalgo becomes the Puente de Alvarado. This was once one of the main causeways leading out of Tenochtitlán, across the lake which surrounded it, and was the route by which the Spanish attempted to flee the city on Noche Triste (Sad Night), July 10, 1520. Following the death of Moctezuma, and with his men virtually under siege in their quarters, Cortés decided to escape the city under cover of darkness. It was a disaster: the Aztecs cut the bridges and, attacking the bogged-down invaders from their canoes, killed all but 440 of the 1300 Spanish soldiers who set out, and more than half their native allies. Greed, as much as anything, cost the Spanish troops their lives, for in trying to take their gold booty with them they were, in the words of Bernal Díaz, “so weighed down by the stuff that they could neither run nor swim”.

The street takes its name from Pedro de Alvarado, one of the last conquistadors to escape, crossing the broken bridge “in great peril after their horses had been killed, treading on the dead men, horses and boxes”. In 1976, a gold bar like those made by Cortés from melted-down Aztec treasures was dug up in Calle Tacuba. It’s now in the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Without doubt, it was part of the treasure being carried by one of the conquistadors attempting to flee the city – a treasure which, as in all good treasure stories, ended up putting a curse on its robbers.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Mexico features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook