Mexico City and Teotihuacán

Mexico City, the oldest capital of the New World, is rich in its indigenous and colonial history.

  1. Start your day with huevos rancheros for breakfast.
  2. Visit Museo Nacional de Antropología. The first seven galleries on the ground floor are in chronological order. Plan to spend a good part of the day at the museum; worth it.
  3. Spend 3-4 days exploring the city and its vicinity. Enjoy the architecture, people, food, music, markets, etc.

P.S. If you complain about smog and overpopulation in Mexico City, I take it you haven’t been to Beijing or Delhi.

Catedral Metropolitana

Catedral Metropolitana in Mexico City is the biggest church in Latin America. Located in the Zócalo, the church took three centuries to be completed. It has five principal altars and 16 chapels that have a valuable collection of paintings and sculptures. Built on the bed of Lake Texoco, the cathedral is sinking into soft clay. Scaffolding has been installed inside to stabilize the building. [Photo by MM]

Palacio Nacional

The Palacio Nacional houses the offices of the President of Mexico. It used to be the residence of Hernán Cortés. Why should you visit this government building? To see Diego Rivera's 1,200 sq ft mural on the second floor of the main courtyard. [Photo by MM]

Diego Rivera: The History of Mexico

Painted above the main staircase of the Palacio Nacional is a mural by Diego Rivera. Monumental in scale, the mural is painted on three walls. It depicts Rivera's view of Mexico as a struggle between the villains [colonialists, capitalist] and the heroes [pre-Columbian people, revolutionaries]. At the center of the mural is the Aztec symbol of an eagle with a serpent in its mouth. [Photo by MM]

Diego Rivera: The History of Mexico - The World of Today and Tomorrow

Greed, corruption, and oppression is depicted in this section of the mural by Rivera. He painted this section after his return from the United States in 1935. The mural portrays the absorption of the Mexican working class into Mexican history by incorporating the images of the Communist and Workers' Movement and Karl Marx. [Photo by MM]

Templo Mayor

The Templo Mayor was built by the Aztecs in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is the site of the Aztec teocalli, a sacred city. The temple was destroyed by the Spinards after their conquest. An accidental discovery of the Coyolxauhqui carving in 1978 prompted the evacuations of what is now a major archaeological site. [Photo by MM]

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Mexico City's concert hall, Palacio de Bellas Artes, is an Art Nouveau and Art Deco building done by Adamo Boari and Federico Mariscal. Inside you will find murals by Rivera and Siqueiros. Several exhibitions and theatrical performances are held. This is also the home of the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra. Get your tickets if the Ballet Folklórico de Mexico is performing. [Photo by MM]

Museo Nacional de Arte

Located at the historical city center is the national art museum. The building was constructed between 1904 and 1911. El Caballito, an equestrian statue of Charles IV of Spain, guards the entrance of museum. The museum galleries have a wide collection of art—religious, folk, murals, etc. The staircase inside the museum is worth nothing. [Photo by MM]

Coyoacán

A fountain in the center of the Plaza del Centenario contains a bronze sculpture of two coyotes, which is a reference to the borough’s name — Coyoacán. Once a rural village, it is now a bustling borough with restaurants, art galleries, bookstores, markets, and museums. [Photo by MM]

Museo Frida Kahlo

Museo Frida Kahlo is where Frida Kahlo was born, spent a major part of the life and died. The house is preserved as it was when Frida and Diego lived there. On display are letters, paintings, artifacts. etc. This is a treasure trove! Do not miss it. [Photo by MM]

Museo Casa De Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky was forced into exile by Joseph Stalin in 1927 and was granted asylum in Mexico 1937. Trotsky lived in this house until his assassination in 1940. [He had previously lived with Frida Kahlo and Diego Revera.] The room where Trotsky was murdered is left as is. [Photo by MM]

Basílica de Guadalupe

According to legend, it was at this basilica in 1531 where a brown-skinned Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego. Displayed inside the church is a tunic on which the image of the Virgin was supposedly imprinted as proof of the miracle. Built in the 18th century, the Baroque façade is flanked by twin towers and is considered to be the most visited Catholic shrine in the Americas. Located inside the building is a museum. The church accommodates 10,000 people. [Photo by MM]

Teotihuacán

Situated approximately 31 miles north-east of Mexico City is one of the most fascinating pre-Columbia sites, Teotihuacán. Built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., it was an urban center with the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon lining the Avenue of the Dead. Note: The Pyramid of the Moon offers the best view of the site. Be prepared for long walks and steep/stiff climbs. [Photo by MM]

Temple of Quetzalcoatl

The Temple of Quetzalcoatl is located in Teotihuacán. You will see masks of the plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc who is identified as a rain god. The temple was built around 200 AD and was later covered by a pyramid. [Photo by MM]

Quetzalpapalotl Palace Complex

The Quetzalpapalotl Palace Complex in Teotihuacán is a collection of residential and temple structures. It was uncovered in 1962. The Palace of Quetzalpapalotl is named for the mythological bird-butterflies that are carved into the courtyard pillars. Decorative merlons symbolizing the calendar crown the palace courtyard.

Pxley Extra:

Frida Kahlo is my favorite Mexican artist. In this Pxley Extra, James Payne explains ‘The Two Fridas’ in his series “Great Art Explained.”

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