The top floor of the Palacio de Correos de Mexico, the grand central post office in downtown Mexico City, is home to the Naval Museum, also known as the Museo Histórico Naval de la Ciudad de México. It's not the sort of place that you'd plan a day-trip around, but if the neatly dressed male and female naval officers grab your attention near enough to the postal palace's pastiche-drowning glass elevators, in a whisk, you're upstairs.
"It's free," they prod helpfully.
As the museum's site reminds you up front, "Mexico's history is tied to the seas that surround it," and this museum certainly makes the case for a refreshing of historical memory. Exhibits mark in meticulously detail (models, paintings, maps, artifacts) the integral role that Mexico's ports and coasts have played in just about every defining chapter in the country's history.
Take the model seen in close-up above, depicting the final decisive battle that saw Cortés and his Indian allies defeat the Triple Alliance, leading to the fall of Tenochtitlán. A little-known footnote to the event is that a major theater of combat took place directly on the Lago de Texcoco. In their retreat to Tlaxcala, the Spaniards had re-grouped and built boats by which to lay seige on the watery Aztec capital, and the Aztecs defended using their well-worn canoe systems.
The rest, of course, is history.
Two more photos of the Texcoco lake battle model are here and here. Pretty astounding to see, even in the form of tiny clay men in boats holding shields, bows, and lances. Had they only known what was to come ...