Mexico City

Mexico City has some amazing sites and culture to offer. Here’s the best of what I saw (quite a lot!!).

TEMPLO MAYOR
Something that strikes you about Mexico, so evident in Mexico City, is the juxtaposition of the truly ancient, with the brand new. Take for example the pyramid ruins, ‘Templo Mayor’, discovered just last century in heart of Mexico City by some electronic company workers.

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Its difficult to describe, through words or indeed a picture, just how amazing and bizzare it is that this ruin sits right there on the corner of the expansive Zocolo, main square in the heart of Mexico City, in amongst with much more modern buildings, and with everyday modern life just carrying on around it.

MARKETS

img_1075Bustly market in central Mexico City

Talking of bustling markets, there are many in Mexico. This one, just round the corner from the Templo Mayor was particularly intense. The thing that struck me was the heightened vigour with which people were bringing attention to their wares. Man, they had loud voices! One was repeatedly shouting ‘GORRAS GORRAS GORRAS!!’ without pause for breath at the top of his lungs. In English I realised with a giggle, he would have been shouting ‘CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS!!’ bursting the eardrums of everyone that passed.

PALACIO DE BELLAS ARTES
Now, I LOVE a beautiful building. And there’s 2 that really stood out for me. The first was the Palacio de Bellas Artes. People rave about the outside, but its the inside I really liked. So hard again to represent its glory in a picture! But it was built in this beautiful pinky coloured marble, with boldly characterful Art Deco deign and features.

img_1050Inside the Palacio De Bellas Artes

Not to mention the murals it is home to – an art form that Mexico does particularly well.

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Detail from a mural in the Palacio de Bellas Artes

BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
The second building I loved was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of 8 churches built across the centuries dedicated to the Virgin of the Guadalupe. (This is I realise now this is the same virgin they were celebrating when I arrived at Oaxaca city and  I unknowingly ended up joining the middle of a bonkers parade for her. See: Good things…).

Here it is in a plaza with another 3 of the churches (its the brown one with the yellow tops)

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But again, it was more the inside I loved…(and this, as you can see, is a mere corner of it!)

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The church to the left in the picture above this one (intentionally shaped like a crown), is the most modern church of the 8. Many people were coming here to worship, and on a normal day people can queue for 5 hours to give confession. We saw one man arriving on his knees (in gratitude our guide told me) and we joined the locals to pass under one of the original images of the Virgin of the Guadalupe at the back of the church (the business end) which people are ferried past on small short escalators going in opposite directions – so you can go back and look again and again if you wish!

PALACIO NACIONAL
I took a special trip to the Palacio Nacional to see the famous Diego Rivera mural there. I almost didn’t get in as, you need ID (?!!) because its a civic building or something – another Mexican rule that was just beyond me. So many rules seem to be flexible there but some are just cast iron. I wasn’t getting in without ID. Luckily I was asked by the guard if I was with the nice American couple I’d been chatting to and I immediately said ‘Yes!’ so got in on their ID – and then had to go round with them (which was very pleasant, and thankfully, they were super nice about it).

Diego Rivera mural inside the Palacio Nacional

I think it was definately worth the kerfuffel. The mural here, as with many of his others depicts the Spanish invasion as vicious and bloody (as it indeed was) and glorifies the ancient Indian civilisations (I recently discovered this was intentional to help form a new Mexican identity after the Spanish invasion).  Note detail of mural above featuring his wife Frida Kahlo.

I was lucky to later on get to visit a less touristy mural of Deigo Riveras – and this one was my favourite. It is painted into the basin of the water channel which used to supply Mexico City’s water (I believe). They thought the paint was waterproof and it tuned out not to be – so they had to divert the whole river that supplied the city to save the mural!

Its particularly amazing because it isn’t painted on a flat surface like the others I saw, but a basin that leads into a channel – making it completely dynamic and almost come alive. I really wanted to get in…

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MUSEO NACIONAL DE ANTROPOLOGIA
One of the best destinations in Mexico City is the Museum of Anthropology. Its enormous – I spent 4 hours going round it and was spent! But thought, hey, I wont be coming back here any time soon. Just as a very small taster of what the museum has to offer, here are the remains found in a tomb. These must have been important people, given all the items inside the tomb with them.

img_1132Remains of a tomb, Museo Nacional de Antropologia

MUSEO FRIDA KAHLO
Another must see is of course Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera’s house, ‘Casa Azul’ (the blue house) – now a museum. It was busy. I queued for an hour – but hey, it gave me a chance to top up my tan. And in spite of having to shuffle round with a huge queue of people in front it was worth the visit. Oh that and going the ‘wrong’ way round the house and not being let in to see a whole other section of it. Again, weird but very strict and frustrating Mexican rule….

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Images from the Frida Kahlo Museum

There were such beautiful portraits of Kahlo in the museum which I had so wanted to buy as postcards, but the shop was very badly stocked for some reason.

Something striking about Frida Kahlo is how disabled she was through illness and her famous accident, how much this informed her world view and her work, and sadly – how young she died, seemingly in the end from an overdose related (possibly amongst other things) to depression and anxiety due to the infidelity of her husband.

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TEOTIHUACAN
For a day trip you could do worse than visit the amazing Teotihuacan – about an hours coach ride from Mexico City (though due to strikes related to the oil price hikes on New Years Day it took us 4 hours to get back!!). Teotihuacan (not its original name – they don’t know what that is or indeed much about the people that built it) is the site of an old city dating from around 100BC and for the next 7 centuries. It was super busy ram-jam full of tourists! But very impressive and worth the trip.

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Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan
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View from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan. Pyramid of the Moon is on the right.

And Finally….My Mexican Friend!
Towards the end of my time in Mexico City I had a friend – a local – to show me round. Of the things we shared here are 2 of my favourites; bull fighting practice in the local part, and some TASTY tacos 🙂 (it took a local buying them to get me some tacos I’d like!)

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Related posts;

Zipolite, Mexico

Good things…

D is for: Disorientated

Oaxaca Ciudad, Mexico

Zipolite take 2

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