Lesson 503: Mexico City’s Markets: a Millennium of Trade

The ancient Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlán was home to several great markets. As we travel through Mexico City, which sits on the foundations of the ancient Aztec home, we make a night stop in the historical flower market, brave our way through the controversial market of witches, and contemplate a bewildering array of merchandise at a flea market. Finally, we follow the route of ancient canals and board a boat for a ride through the market’s historic source, the floating gardens of Xochimilco.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about Mexico City’s unique markets that sell a variety of local goods.

Social Studies Standards

People, Places, & Environments: G, H

Discussion Prompts

  • The system of sustainable agricultural in Mexico is considered an ideal since the soil is always fertile and there is no down time needed. Why or why not could this take place where you live?
  • If the salamander has such a special ability to regenerate its limbs that few other species have, do you think that there should be special laws to provide it greater protection from extinction? Why or why not? Justify your reasoning.
  • How does the pulque drink represent more than just a nutritious drink but also a way of life in Mexico City? Compare this drink to one in your region linked to a social custom that brings people together.
  • Why is the witches’ market controversial? Explain the historical and religious background of this market. Do you believe that its products and potions will create opportunities, good luck and solve people’s problems? Why or why not?

Lesson Activities

  • In teams, come up with a new idea for a market that would benefit Mexico City using the information provided in the video. Draw up an architectural design and marketing plan and show how it supports the culture. Share your plan with classmates and vote on the option that is best aligned to the city’s cultural needs.
  • You have been assigned by the head docent to give a team of students who have never been to Mexico City before a tour of the Anthropology Museum, markets, and floating gardens. In preparation for the tour, make a list of ten questions you think they might ask you and then provide the answers.
  • If you could only visit one market, would it be the flower market, witches market, or flea market? Explain which one you would want to visit most and why. Create an itinerary and budget that includes what you would see, what you would buy at the market, and who you might take with you.
  • Write a first person paragraph about the floating gardens from the perspective of a tourist, urban planner, neighbor, gardener and fish that illustrates the differences in the way they might relate to the floating gardens.


  • alliance
  • aromatic
  • bewildering
  • clientele
  • commodities
  • contemplate
  • depleted
  • regenerate
  • subdued
  • wild edibles


In the Americas Season 5 Lesson Episode 3