Calle de República de Guatemala is one of the many streets in Mexico City’s Historic Center named after a Latin American country. This renaming initiative began in 1921, 100 years since Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain and the first anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. The first countries that recognized the newly installed Mexican government were remembered with the renamed streets.
In addition to Calle de República de Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, and Paraguay were also honored with renamed streets. Since Guatemala shares a border with Mexico, perhaps it makes sense that this street is the one closest to the heart of the city, just one block away from El Zócalo, the main square in Mexico City.
Many colonial buildings still stand along Calle de República de Guatemala, although one building stands out. Number 28 has a plain featureless facade facing the street. On this blank canvas, a reproduction of the previous building’s facade was painted in 2018. The mural was based on a picture in the Constantino Reyes-Valerio Photo Library and the National Institute of Anthropology and History supervised the painting.
It is not clear what lies behind the painted wall or what happened to the original building. Since the building is located in what was once the heart of Tenochtitlán, it has been theorized that an anthropological dig might be ongoing there, as is famously the case with #24. In addition to its trompe l’oeil mural, #28’s simple facade was also previously used as a backdrop in the 2017 Festival of Light, when the video artwork Savia by Alejandro Pinpon was projected on it.
The facade features a plaque with text in both Náhuatl and Spanish. The words are believed to be the last message from Tenochtitlán’s authorities, announced in 1521 by Cuauhtémoc, the city’s last emperor, before the fall of the Aztec/Mexica capital to the conquistadors.