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WK in Mexico City

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s a video of the street artist WK putting his work up on a large wall in Mexico City.

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Mexico City: the world’s most under-rated city?

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t know what I had expected from Mexico City. It was our final stop on our six week tour of Central America, and as such one of the few immovable objects in our plans. Yet I knew precious little about the place. The most populous city in the western hemisphere (depending on what arbitrary basis you choose to divide our world); a city that lives atop one of our planet’s most unstable fault lines; and yes, a place with a reputation for uncompromisingly mean streets. That was about the full extent of my knowledge. And as Lonely Planet decided that Central America does not extend beyond the southernmost Mexican states my guidebook was by now little more than a brick in the bottom of my rucksack.

We arrived in Mexico travel weary and without the inclination to be blown away by yet another new city, a new set of churches and yet more grand relics of colonial or pre-colonial days. Yet Mexico did manage to impress; in fact, more than that it surprised us to such an extent that it was quickly installed as one of the highlights of our trip.

World Class Architecture

El Palacio de Bellas Artes
The sheer scale of the architecture on display in Mexico is astounding. The Palace of Bellas Artes (across the road from our hotel) made a striking landmark, more so in the late afternoon when the setting sun cast its orange light on the giant onion dome.

The Torre Latinoamericana, Mexico’s original skyscraper, had clearly seen better days yet even now it dwarfs the surrounding buildings and can be seen from most places in the city. And in a city that has a serious sinking problem that is causing most buildings to lean at Pisa-esque angles it’s one of the few buildings in the city that’s still reassuringly straight. A ride to the restaurant and little museum at the top will cost you 60 pesos ($5).

The breathtaking interior of the central post office in Mexico City

It’s not only the external street views that are impressive. Perhaps our biggest gasp of admiration came when we entered the main central Post Office (Correo Mayor). To see the ornate stairwells and the grand elevator was to see at first hand the ambition, power and confidence that the powers of Mexico displayed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Original architecture surprises at every turn
Around every corner is yet another splendid church, a bohemian square or a dilapidated relic of Mexico’s colourful past. And the museums are by all accounts superb. We were keen to visit the highly rated National Museum of Anthropology. Sadly due to some spectacularly bad planning we’d set aside our only full day in the city as a Monday, when pretty much no museum is open; be warned.

As for the city’s dangerous reputation? In daylight the central of the city is filled with working people mixed in with a few quirky characters; much like any other city in fact. Of course at night things change, and while the main pedestrian thoroughfare (Av. Madero) remains busy until its shops and surrounding restaurants shut their doors, in much of the city the pavements do empty and walking is not recommended.


Our Lady of Guadelupe

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

While Mexico City is full of grand churches and some of the world’s finest museums there are also many reasons to head out of the centre. Fortunately the excellent public transport system makes this very easy and cheap to do. A trip to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a short metro ride north of the centre. This is considered by many to be the holiest religious site in the Americas and it was here that a lowly farmer saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the 16th century.

There are now several churches and chapels at the site, as well as the original picture to which pilgrims come to pray. You’ll also find a giant bronze statue of Pope John Paul 2 alongside his popemobile. Souvenir shops are everywhere.

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan is a hugely impressive Aztec site around 50km north of Mexico. Famed for its two giant pyramids, the 3km walk along the Avenue of the Dead that runs through the site is best done away from the midday heat. Be prepared for the persistent attentions of the hawkers as you make your way through the complex of ancient temples and dwellings.

Even after visiting half a dozen Mayan sites before reaching Mexico, Teotihuacan still made a strong impression and is highly recommended. It is a one hour bus ride from the northern bus station.

CoyoacanCoyoacan, one of Mexico City's more affluent suburbs

On our final day we took the subway south to the leafy suburb of Coyoacan. Its wide open plaza and laid back vibe was reminiscent of a small French provincial town. The houses in the nearby streets were clearly inhabited by the well heeled end of Mexico’s population, with nannies and dog walkers appearing and disappearing from houses while the joggers out in the park rushed past us with the latest i-gadgets, blocking out the sounds of their small green dot in the otherwise endless urban sprawl.
Frida and Diego

Along with many other tourists we’d come to Coyoacan on the trail of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Having seen the movie Frida just before we left home (if you’re going to Mexico City, the only piece of advice I’d give is to watch it before you go; seriously) we had already visited the museum housing one of Diego Rivera’s murals the day before. We now came to see Frida’s famous Blue House where she’d spent much of her childhood and where she passed away.
Bed of Frida Kahlo
The house is now an excellent museum telling the story of Frida’s life and showing much of her work, and the audio guide on offer is unusually good. It leaves you in no doubt that Ms Kahlo led one of the most troubled lives that you could imagine anyone having the misfortune to experience.

Article taken from: http://www.501places.com/2011/03/mexico-city-the-worlds-most-under-rated-city/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+501places%2FtTer+%28501+Places%29

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Luxury Travel: Experiencing Mexico City

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Feb 2, 2011 Ashanti Altovese Griffin

Learn where to go in Mexico City for an exciting cultural experience.

When the travel bug hits you, the only thing to do is to get away and the beautiful countries of Latin America are wonderful places to consider. Mexico in particular is a large country with a variety of natural environments, history of ancient cultures, and filled with the warmth of their people. With so much to offer, Mexico and its many cities along the Pacific are popular tourist destinations for people looking to enjoy pleasant weather in a land of open arms and hearts. To gain access to the center of Mexico’s past, present, and future, visitors should look to explore Mexico City and some of its exciting attractions like that of Xochimilco, Teotihuacan, and Chapultepec Castle.

Mexico City Attractions: Xochimilco

Xochimilco is considered by locals as the “Venice of Mexico”. Visitors can float on one of its many water canals on beautifully painted boats that allow you to sit back and relax. In ancient times, Xochimilco was filled with floating gardens called chinampas that provided the community with fruits, vegetables, and other food items for agricultural production. Now, visitors can rent a boat by the hour and observe native birds, plants, and aquatic animals as they float along while eating quesadillas or drinking apple soda in the Mexican sunshine. Boat rental costs about $20 US dollars per hour and is good for up to fifteen people at a time. This attraction is located in the southern part of Mexico City.

Mexico City Attractions: Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is the must see archeological site for learning about the ancient civilization of the Meso-American people of central Mexico. Dozens of pyramids make up the collection of temples, dwellings, and religious grounds of the site. The famous Avenue of the Dead is the main street of the site and the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, and other buildings give visitors insight into the daily life of people at the site. In addition to walking through the grounds, you can learn more about the people of Teotihuacan at a museum which showcases an aerial view model of the ruins along with ancient artifacts found there. Vendors sell their souvenirs to those looking to take home a piece of Mexico through key chains, crystals, blankets and more. This attraction is located in the northeastern part of the outskirts of Mexico City.

Mexico City Attractions: Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec Castle is a gorgeous structure that has housed some of Mexico City’s most prestigious government officials. Visitors can walk throughout the facility to learn about the icons that shaped Mexico into the metropolis it is today. Located on the top of Chapultepec Hill, the castle is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. Around the castle are gardens that can also be enjoyed by visitors. If you like history, Chapultepec Castle is the perfect location to get lost in the adventure of Mexico’s kings, armies, and rulers of old.

Mexico City is a special location that offers visitors a look into ancient worlds of years past. Book a flight and take a trip to discover this unique city for yourself.

Read more at Suite101: Luxury Travel: Experiencing Mexico City http://www.suite101.com/content/luxury-travel-experiencing-mexico-city-a342126#ixzz1Ff4awRQx

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Breaking: ROA and SEGO making new piece in Mexico City

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

From on the scene reporter Gonzalo Gag we got the news that a Street Art duet is taking place on the streets of D.F. right now.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Sego-and-Roa-DF-Copyright-Gonzalo-Gag

Sego and ROA scope out the wall (photos © and courtesy of Gonzalo Gag) – Please credit.

Article taken from: http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/?p=17848

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Roma rises again @ Mexico City

July 9, 2010 1 comment

City travel

Roma rises again

Article taken from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/roma-rises-again/article1630610/

Colonia Roma is loved for its beaux arts style homes, wide leafy  streets and public squares.

Colonia Roma is loved for its beaux arts style homes, wide leafy streets and public squares. Keith Dannemiller for The Globe and Mail

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A revolution and an earthquake haven’t been able to flatten the creative spirit in this Mexico City neighbourhood.

David Agren

MEXICO CITY — Special to Globe and Mail Update Published on Tuesday, Jul. 06, 2010 4:03PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 06, 2010 6:21PM EDT

The Colonia Roma unfolded early in the past century as an aristocratic haunt of wide boulevards and stately homes built in the beaux arts style – until the Mexican revolution of 1910 halted development.

A less bourgeois set arrived shortly thereafter, which included many artists, writers and politically minded folk (Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs and retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro among them), earning the neighbourhood a lasting reputation for well-cultured denizens. Then, in 1985, a devastating 8.1 magnitude earthquake rocked La Roma, flattening buildings and displacing residents for years.

La Roma gradually rebuilt. Many of the old families moved back, while a new wave of creative types followed.

Today, slightly more than a century after its founding, La Roma is coming full-circle, rediscovering its aristocratic roots. Socialites and the moneyed set are returning – bodyguards in tow – chic restaurants and lounges are opening, and speculators have ignited a real estate boom.

Much of the appeal owes to its central location, leafy streets, architectural gems and several expansive squares – including Plaza Rio de Janeiro, home to fountains, a replica statue of Michelangelo’s David and soccer-playing youths.

The appeal is also thanks to an eclectic mix of lowbrow and highbrow establishments, easily visible when strolling Calle Colima. This street is book-ended by a funeral parlour and a smoke-belching hamburger cart, and is home to flower shops, a skateboard store, boutiques bursting with blue jeans and funky T-shirts, chi-chi restaurants and several public and private art galleries.

All the changes in La Roma invite comparisons to the adjacent Colonia Condesa, a fashionable and popular neighbourhood at risk of becoming overrun with cookie-cutter developments, Argentine grills and Starbucks.

Roma locals worry that their neighbourhood will move upmarket too quickly and become another La Condesa, which many artists abandoned because of rising rents. But antiques dealer Emmanuel Picault, owner of the shop Chic by Accident, is more sanguine about La Roma’s future. “It’s evolving,” he said.

At La Valise you'll find a truly random assortment of unique  curios.
Keith Dannemiller for The Globe and Mail

At La Valise you’ll find a truly random assortment of unique curios.

Re-Pack your bag

As the name suggests, La Valise draws inspiration from items stuffed into a suitcase. This bazaar delivers a truly random assortment of goods, which includes classic books, Spanish-language vinyl records and pink boxing gloves. Zacatecas 126; 52-55-5564-9013

Eclectic artwork and furniture for sale at the interior design  store, Chic by Accident.
Keith Dannemiller for The Globe and Mail

Eclectic artwork and furniture for sale at the interior design store, Chic by Accident.

No accident

French expatriate Emmanuel Picault has scoured markets and private collections across the capital – and beyond – for the past decade in search of rare finds inspired by Mexican designers. Current items on display at Chic by Accident include armchairs designed by famed architect Luis Barragan, an oversized papier-mâché skull and clay arboles de vida (trees of life), which depict the story of creation. Alvaro Obregon 49; 52 55-5511-1312 www.chicbyaccident.com

Surrealist pop art fills the shelves at Guru boutique.
Keith Dannemiller for The Globe and Mail

Surrealist pop art fills the shelves at Guru boutique.

Get smart

Guru, a design store and gallery, promises “lowbrow, surrealistic pop” and retro offerings – and it largely delivers, stocking everything from ceramic unicorns to notebooks adorned with lucha libre imagery to World Cup-inspired tarot cards. Colima 143; 52-55-5533-7140

Mexican fashion sense

Dime – pronounced “dee-me” and meaning “tell me” – highlights the creation of young Mexican fashion designers, whose inspiration is frequently culled from national icons, landmarks and myths. Examples include oversized bags emblazoned with Our Lady of Guadalupe and T-shirts featuring images of temperamental soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who’s considered a demigod in some areas. Alvaro Obregon 185; 52-55-2454-6790; www.dimetienda.com

Tough name, cool clothing

The boutique Sicario draws its name from the Spanish word for the toughs employed by narcotics-trafficking cartels. Little about the merchandise – jeans, funky T-shirts, loads of sneakers and even vintage bicycles – suggests criminal links, however. Sicario also promotes DJs and provides information on shows. Colima 124; 52-55-5511-0396; www.sicario.tv

A popular hamburger cart serves burgers with roasted pineapple.
Keith Dannemiller for The Globe and Mail

A popular hamburger cart serves burgers with roasted pineapple.

Street fare

Perhaps the best street food in Mexico City, hamburguesas a la parrilla are served at a popular grill parked on Calle Colima. A double cheeseburger with a roasted pineapple ring costs about $2.50 and is best washed down with a bottle of Jarritos brand pop. The tamarind flavour is sublime. Corner of Colima and Morelia

All in the family

The arrival of Sobrinos (nieces and nephews) marked La Roma’s upmarket ascent and it quickly became popular with the young and wealthy – known locally as “fresas” (slang for “snobs”). The most recent outlet in an empire of bistros named for family connections – including Primos (cousins) and Tios (uncles and aunts) – Sobrinos has won as much fame for catering to the glitterati as its Spanish-inspired fare and decor. Alvaro Obregon 110; 52-55-5264-7466

Keep it simple

A long-time La Roma favourite, NonSolo occupies a hole in the wall across from the fountains of Plaza Luis Cabrera. This Italian eatery boasts a simple menu of paninis and salads and a pleasing wine list. Another location one-block north on Alvaro Obregon offers more tables and larger menu, along with a cozy upstairs lounge. Plaza Luis Cabrera 10; 52-55-3096-5128; www.nonsolo.com.mx

First a bank, then a brothel, Hotel Brick opened earlier this  year.
Keith Dannemiller for The Globe and Mail

First a bank, then a brothel, Hotel Brick opened earlier this year.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotel Brick Orizaba 95; 52-55-5525-1100; www.hotelbrick.com. Once the abode of an English banker and later a brothel, this boutique hotel has drawn fawning reviews and a clientele of socialites since opening earlier this year. Guests can belly up to a lobby bar, sip cocktails in the ground-floor lounge, nosh on wood-fired pizzas in a lonchería (lunchroom) or dine in the brasserie, which specializes in Provençal cuisine. The 17 rooms and suites are modern in design. From $230 per night

Hostel Home Tabasco 303; 52-55-5511-1683; www.hostelhome.com.mx. A pioneer in the Mexico City hostel scene, Hostel Home sleeps 22 (there are no private rooms) in a former mansion with hardwood floors, spacious common areas, free wireless Internet and a kitchen. Owner Juancho Nunez moonlights as a DJ and always extends performance invitations to guests. $12 a night, breakfast included.

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Mexico City’s rich heritage welcomes lovers of culture

June 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ellen Creager, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Visitors on Mexico City's main Zocalo, or town square, crowd into  the National Palace; in the background is the Metropolitan Cathedral,  built by the Spanish in the 1700s.
Visitors on Mexico City’s main Zocalo, or town square, crowd into the National Palace; in the background is the Metropolitan Cathedral, built by the Spanish in the 1700s.
Photograph by: Ellen Creager, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

MEXICO CITY – Go ahead and use Diego Rivera as excuse. Mention murals as the reason you’re coming.

But get down here right away, art lovers, and soak in the atmosphere of one of the most interesting cities in the world.

Mexico’s capital city is buzzing with 22 million people. Known for its restaurants, nightlife and traffic, it is surprisingly clean, dignified and gracious, its intentions serious, its attitude worlds away from tourist spots like Cancun or Los Cabos.

It also is 500 to 2,000 miles south of Mexico’s dangerous U.S. border towns.

“Mexico City is the real Mexico,” says Fernando Ledesma, arts expert and guide in the city. “It has four cultural World Heritage sites — more than any other city in the world. It has 160 museums. It has the richest cultural heritage in all Latin America.”

In the 1920s to 1950s, muralists flourished here, their astonishing paintings covering buildings and walls all over the city. They told stories of dictators and emperors, Indians and gods, elites and rebels — all depicted in muralists’ art as swept along by history as this nation spun from ancient cultures to the Aztecs, Spanish and revolution.

The most famous muralist, of course, is Diego Rivera. He is known in the United States as the creator of “Detroit Industry,” the towering four-wall masterpiece painted in 1932-33 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

But here in Mexico City, you can see so much more.

The Dolores Olmedo Museum has 150 Rivera works, including masterful paintings he did in Europe and Russia. The National Anthropology Museum has stunning ancient art of the Americas. Here in the city, you can see Rivera’s studio, his paintbrushes, his first mural, and his wife Frida Kahlo’s house. You also can see the work of other muralists who put Mexico on the art map.

The city also has a fine artists’ bazaar, modern art museum, colonial architecture and scenic churches (many tilting due to the alarmingly soft ground).

Let other people go to Mexico’s beaches. For those who love art, this is the place.

In Mexico, arts tours usually focus on places such as Oaxaca and Chiapas (textiles and folk art), Jalisco (pottery, blown glass and artists’ markets) and Mexico City (murals and archaeology).

Stephanie Schneiderman of Ann Arbor, Mich., who grew up in Mexico City, runs art and textile tours of Mexico through TiaStephanie Tours. Her clients want to be educated, not just entertained, she says. She runs tours for museum, art and textile groups — but also for art lovers.

“They are artists or collectors or just appreciators,” says Schneiderman. But not necessarily experts.

Mexican muralism was supported by a fragile government that had just overthrown its dictator. The art was big, and so was its message.

“The murals were public, political and monumental,” says Schneiderman. “It was a move to recapture Mexico’s national identity, with the idea that the real people of the country were the rural, indigenous population. It glorified and even romanticized these elements.”

Rivera may have been an art prodigy, but his forte was the broad canvas of the mural. He learned fresco painting in Italy and applied it to subjects back home that spoke to him as a Mexican outraged by injustice. Yet he also was a commercial painter. He hired himself out for everything from murals in Detroit and San Francisco to portraits of rich Mexican women.

When Rivera was alive, female tourists came to Mexico to meet him and hope for more intimate contact. Today, his celebrity hasn’t dimmed.

One popular starting point is “The Creation” at the Colegio de San Ildefonso school auditorium in Mexico City’s historic center. It was Rivera’s first mural, in 1922.

“Every day, people come to see that mural,” says curator Eri Camara, who describes the semi-religious mural as lacking Rivera’s later blatant political tone and with “a freshness; the ideology is not overt.” In addition, tourists who have seen the movie “Frida” visit because it’s the spot where Rivera and future wife, painter Frida Kahlo, met when she was just 14.

Another painting with a story behind it is “Portrait of Dolores Olmedo” at the Dolores Olmedo Museum. She was a wealthy arts benefactor who took a shine to Rivera and collected his work in the 1950s — after she had him paint her as a whimsical Mexican maid holding a bowl of fruit. (Note to academia: Somebody should investigate why women had a huge soft spot for Rivera, even though he was approximately as handsome as a frog.)

With 150 fantastic Rivera works and 26 from Frida Kahlo, the Dolores Olmedo Museum is an imperative.

The most famous mural s in Mexico City are at the National Palace and at Palacio de Bellas Artes. As politics, the murals’ unwavering theme is the glory of ancient man, brutality of empire and mistrust of capitalism. The murals contain lots of blood, swords, a cast of thousands and naive socialist symbols. But as art, they are amazing; my favorite is the Rivera mural “The Great City of Tenochtitlan” and the Jorge Gonzalez Camarena mural “Liberation of Humanity.”

Drive by the UNAM, Mexico’s national university campus, and see the library designed by architect Juan O’Gorman. Its entire exterior is a mural, a pattern that looks a little like a textile weaving. Over at the National Museum of Anthropology, you can see the major piece of art of ancient Mexico, the Sun Stone.

And, oh, I forgot. Did I mention that Mexico City has an ancient city just north of town? Teotihuacan, with the Sun Pyramid and Moon Pyramid, thrived from 100 to 750 AD. It was already a huge ruin when the Aztecs got there in 1300 AD. Unearthed in the 1960s, its art and architecture show a rigorously planned city where as many as 200,000 people lived. That is pretty humbling to the modern man who thinks our own civilization will last forever.

Civilizations don’t, of course.

But art does.

——

IF YOU GO:

Mexico City is nothing like you imagine — it’s better. Its downtown is clean, culturally rich and hip, with elegant shopping, museums, churches, gracious tree-lined boulevards, colonial architecture, busy streets and Aztec ruins beside modern buildings. Its Zona Rosa district is popular for nightlife. Its Zocalo, or town square, is the largest in the Americas.

LODGING:

KH Suites: Apart-Hotel services at Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec. 1 to 3 bedroom fully Furnished and Equipped Suites, as well as houses. Perfect for families traveling (www.khsuites.com)*

Hotel Maria Cristina: Moderate hotel popular with business and leisure travelers in good location. (www.hotelmariacristina.com.mx)

Casa Gonzalez: Famous budget bed and breakfast in good location in the Colonia Cuauhtemoc neighborhood. (www.hotelcasagonzalez.com)

El Emporio: Small luxury hotel on Paseo de la Reforma. (www.hotelesemporio.com/cdmexico)

The Four Seasons: Expensive but high quality lodging. (www.fourseasons.com/mexico)

RESTAURANTS: Stephanie Schneiderman of TiaStephanie Tours grew up in Mexico City. Her favorite restaurants:

Fonda el Refugio: Traditional Mexican food, best margaritas in the city. (Liverpool 166, Zona Rosa)

El Cardenal: Elegant old-fashioned service; two branches, one in historic center (Juarez 70, Col. Centro) and another at the Hilton Alameda Park.

El Bajio: Traditional Mexican food; now a chain with several branches around town. (www.carnitaselbajio.com.mx)

Restaurante Pujol: Very high-end contemporary dining in the Polanco district; chef is Enrique Olvera. (Francisco Petrarca 254, Col. Polanco)

Los Panchos: Best carnitas (pork tacos) in the city. (Tolstoi No. 9 Entre Leibintz y Dante, Col. Anzures)

Sanborn’s: For breakfast. Old department store in the historic House of Tiles downtown has elegant, high-ceiling restaurant. (Calle Madero 4, Col. Centro)

SHOPPING: El Bazar del Sabado: Open only on Saturdays, fantastic for high quality art, crafts, jewelry and textiles.

MONEY: About 12 pesos to the Canadian dollar. Plenty of ATMs available.

SAFETY: Take the usual precautions you would against pickpockets. Don’t take gypsy taxis; have your hotel or restaurant call one for you. Like in any large city, stay in well-trod tourist areas, and don’t wander around alone at night.

HEALTH: Mexico City has a mild climate because it is 2,200 metres above sea level. Some people take time to get acclimated to the elevation. Don’t drink tap water; most hotels provide bottled water. Pollution levels have improved; as long as a breeze is blowing, it’s pretty clear and you can see the gorgeous mountains that encircle the city.

© Copyright (c) McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
*Info added by this blog editor
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10 Can’t be missed in Mexico City

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

By michael

Article taken from our friends at GotSaga

10 Can’t be missed in Mexico City

1- Xochimilco

Xochimilco is to the south of Mexico City, and gives a glimpse at the effects of rushed urbanization over the years. It’s a great place for tourists.

At the Nativitas (not to be confused with the Metro station) embarcadero, take one of hundreds of boats (trajineras) through the canals which is all that is left of the lake on which Mexico City was built. This activity is widely enjoyed by Mexicans, so it’s one of the more authentic tourist experiences available. The boats are colorfully painted and often bear the name of the owner’s female child or other relative. There are set prices depending on the size of boat and length of the ride, though if you speak Spanish this can be bargained on. You can bring your own food and drinks for a picnic lunch on the larger boats, as they have a long table down the middle. As you travel down the canals, music boats float by with bands, mariachi trios, and marimba players, and for a fee you can have them float along beside you and play the songs that you request. As you travel you will see city life, restaurants, and greenhouses where flowers and plants are grown. Further beyond the city canals there is a wildlife preserve in which the original character of the chinampas (Aztec-era “floating gardens”) may be seen.

2- Coyoacán

This relatively large area in the southwest of Mexico City has always been a counterculture hotbed. This is where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, a few blocks away from Leon Trotsky (their houses are now the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Leon Trotsky Museum, respectively), and the tranquil residential area, with parks, squares, and cobblestone streets, is now a favourite spot for the bohemia set.

3- Chapultepec

A district of Mexico City. “Chapultepec” means “Grasshopper Hill” (Chapul – Grasshopper / Tepec – Hill) in Nahuatl, the language of the “Aztecs”. The hill and surrounding district has much significance in Mexican history. The Bosque de Chapultepec (Náhuatl, “hill of the grasshoppers”) is Mexico City’s principal park and, with an area of 4sq.km/2.5sq.mi, its largest.

4- Chapultepec Castle

Once the home of the Spanish Viceroys, a military college scene of historic battle during the Mexican-American War, and the palace of Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota. It is now a museum. You can walk up the winding hill road, or take the tram that departs every twenty minutes for a fee of 13 MXP. There are two parts to the museum: the historical building itself, and the Museum of National History. Don’t miss the Roman-style gardens and observatory on the roof of the building. The castle also boasts a fine view of Mexico City and its surroundings. Admission to the Castle is $51 as of May 2010. A fee is charged to use a video camera and flash photography is not permitted.

5-  Templo Mayor

The site of the main Aztec temple of Tenochtitlan, it was destroyed by Spanish conquistadors in 1521, who then promptly erected the Cathedral roughly over it–but not quite. Centuries later, nearly completely forgotten, its actual location was discovered by accident in 1978 when electrical workers found a piece of a large stone disc depicting the goddess Coyolxauhqui. This sets off a few furious years of archaeological digging, resulting in a rather surprising (and extremely significant) discovery that nested underneath the original Aztec temple was six distinct smaller, older temples. You can see each layer walking through the dig site, and after that is the Museo del Templo Mayor, a four-story museum showcasing the many artifacts found on the site.

6- Plaza de las Tres Culturas

So called because in one city square you can see three different time periods of Mexico City’s development mixed together: the pre-hispanic Aztec temple grounds of Tlatelolco, the 16th-century Spanish Church of Santiago, and a modern 20th-century skyscraper, now home of the University Cultural Center Tlatelolco (CCUT) for UNAM. The temple, like Tenochtitlan’s Templo Mayor, was built in several layers and is now the site of continuing archaeological exploration; it occupies the largest amount of area, on the north and west side of the plaza. The entrance is on Lázaro Cárdenas; admission is free and there are English speaking tours each day at 1PM. If you’re not around for the tour, you can guide yourself along the path (complete with English plaques) that takes you through the ruins, which deposits you in front of the Church of Santiago, on the east side of the plaza. The colonial church, built by Spaniards immediately after destroying the temple in their conquest of Aztec lands, was constructed using stones “borrowed” from the temple itself. Despite its weathered appearance, the interior is well-maintained and should still hold regular Mass, although doors may not always be open to the public. To the south, you’ll see the modern-day tower and its adjacent buildings, which were built originally for the Secretary of External Relations (SRE), now headquartered across the street (though they still have offices in the church’s adjoining cloister). Currently, UNAM runs the building as a conference hall and cultural center, and has a few exhibits open to the public: Memorial 68 (see Museums, below) and the Blaisten Collection, showcasing modern art.

7- Take a Turibus

The double-decker hop-in and hop-off tourist bus that runs along Paseo de la Reforma, and throughout many other areas of the city. You can depart Zona Rosa at the Angel de Independencia for connections to the pyramids, the south of the city and the normal tourist route. Be sure to check the schedule at the tourist information booth a few steps from the stop.

8- The Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan The City of the Gods, is an Aztec archeological site 40 km northeast of Mexico City. Náhuatl for “the place where men became gods”, Teotihuacan is home to some of the largest ancient pyramids in the world. According to legend, it was here where the gods gathered to plan the creation of man.

Teotihuacan was the largest Pre-Columbian city in the Americas, reaching a total population of 150,000 at its height. The name is also used to refer to the civilization this city dominated, which at its greatest extent included most of Mesoamerica.

Construction of Teotihuacán commenced around 300 BC, with the Pyramid of the Sun built by 150 BC. 150–450 AD.

It is said that the descendents of this city abandoned this city and relocated in Tenochtitlan because it was thought to be a more sacred location.

9- Museo Leon Trotsky

Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky was granted asylum in Mexico after being expelled from the Soviet Union, where he settled in Coyoacán in 1936. He continued to be vocally critical of Stalin’s policies, however, and four years later he was assassinated in his home. The museum preserves the house in much the condition as it was in Trotsky’s last days.

10- Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi

The square is surrounded by cafés and restaurants much favored by tourists, and in these and in the square itself groups of musicians play folk music. Most of these groups are “mariachis” from Jalisco, dressed in Charro costume and playing trumpets, violins, guitars and the guitarrón or bass guitar. Payment is expected for each song, but it is also possible to arrange for a longer performances. People set up lemonade stand style bars in the evening to sell you cheap cocktails while you listen. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands, but the neighborhood is a bit sketchy.

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