What a city! Situated in a shallow mountain bowl, 2400m above sea level Mexico City, aka CDMX (Ciudad de Mexico) is one of the most dynamic, exciting and enticing cities we have ever visited- and there have been a quit a few!
We spent six days here at the start of a 7 week trip around this wonderful country. Already we want to return to see more but here are some of the places we did manage to squeeze in:
Officially the Plaza de la Constitution but renamed by the people as the Zocalo (which means “plinth”), after an abortive attempt to build a monument to independence in the 19th Century left only the plinth. This is the epicentre of the entire country and nowadays, every city has its own Zocalo, similar I suppose to the Plazas de Armas all over South America. To the north side is the Catedral Metropolitana and to the east the massive Palacio Nacional.
Everyone in Mexico seems to want to hold a demonstration in the Zocalo. We managed to get caught up in one in the streets leading there. Fortunately, despite the presence of the heavily armed police, it all seemed very good natured and quite fun!
This magnificent edifice dominates northern side of the square. Certainly the largest Catedral we have seen in the Americas, although we have seen more beautiful churches.
Most days, Aztec dancers in their weird and wonderful costumes can be seen strutting their stuff around the plaza.
Witchdoctors also ply their trade, offering to cleanse one of all sins (just didn’t have the time!). The ritual involves buying a bunch of twigs from an assistant, who then lights them, passes the smoking twig to the shamen who then waves the burning twigs all around chanting whilst the customer stands there, arms and legs akimbo, coughing away amidst the smoke – don’t stand downwind to watch!
A short walk from the Zocalo, is a wonderful, green open space right in the centre of the city. A nice place to sit awhile and watch some of the many street performers or, at certain times of the year, admire the many statues of “La Caterina.
These elegantly dressed skeletons are found all over Mexico City. the word “Catrina” means well dressed and the image derives from early 20th century cartoons poking fun at the elegantly dressed upper classes and pointing out that regardless of social standing, we all meet the same fate in the end. (my thanks to William, one of our readers who kindly provided the background information)
Palacio Des Bellas Artes
This magnificent golden-domed building is as impressive inside as it is outside. Art Deco in style, it houses some spectacular murals including some by the ubiquitous Diego Rivera.
The Palacio is also home to a series of exhibitions and permanent displays of Mexican art as well as temporary exhibitions of anything from local art-school graduates’ work to that of major international artists. We may have to return for a longer look.
Museo Nacional de Antropologica
One of the world’s great museums, not just for its vast and diverse collection of exhibits, but also for its originality of design and practicality. The exhibition halls surround a patio with a small pond and a huge concrete umbrella supported by a single pillar around which flows an cascade.
Each of the exhibition halls have access to gardens which also contain larger, outdoor exhibits.
A few of the many superb exhibits:
and a few more!
At the main entrance from Reforma is a colossal statue of the rain god Tlaloc. Legend has it that when it was moved from its original home in the east of the city, the move provoked torrential downpours in the midst of a drought.
A great first stop in the city and easily manageable in a morning or afternoon visit.
We got lucky with our choice of hotel location. Metrobus and Metro stations were close by making it easy to get around. There were some great food places around, from our “regular” breakfast taco stall, to more upmarket places.
An unexpected bonus of our hotel location were the folkloric dance performances in Jardin Puskin, right outside Which we happened upon by chance.
There is just so much going on in this city – as dynamic, vibrant and fun city as ever there was.