8 things to do in Mexico City

You’ve been wondering what to do and where to go in the Americas oldest capital city? I have a few suggestions for you.

 

1.- Teotihuacán

The most visited archaeological site in Mexico is only a few kilometers outside Mexico City, 30 miles (48 km) northeast to be precise. Which makes it all the most easier to visit even if you are just taking a weekend trip to the mexican capital.

I recommend it extensively because it is a wonder of architecture and a perpetual incognita of history ( some people claim aliens build it) ; making it a site beautiful to behold and profoundly interesting.

The name Teotihuacán comes from the indigenous language Nahuatl; spoken by the Aztecs and many other pre-hispanic ethnic groups. It means “birthplace of the gods”.

It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. ✓

Some areas are marked “Research only” but you can still climb the Sun Pyramid I believe… if this changes when you reas the post then you can surely admire it from ground level or climb the slightly smaller Moon Pyramid, at the end of The Avenue of the Dead.

IMPORTANT: The heat can be brutal so don’t be afraid to look like a tourist and bring a hat, sunblock and plenty of water.

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2.- Chapultepec Castle

¿Did you know there is a castle in the middle of Mexico City?

The only royal castle in North America stands atop the sacred Aztec “grasshopper’s hill” in teh middle of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. It has served several purposes throughout its history: Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential home, Observatory and currently, National Museum of History.

The boulevard connecting the palace with the city centre was modeled after Champs-Élysées in Paris  and is one of the nicest areas in Mexico City to walk around and admire the various attractions, luxurious establishments and art exhibitions.

Mecca of celebration and protests and a must on your itinerary.

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3.- Soumaya Museum

This modern museum is the work of the mexican architect Fernando Romero, and the vision of a man who has been on the top billionaires in the world for many years, Carlos Slim. Named after his wife; the private museum is a non-profit cultural institution, hence it is free and open to everyone.

It holds over 66,000 works from 30 centuries of art from Mexico and the world. It is considered one of the most complete collections of its kind.

Culture-up and admire this beautiful exhibition!

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4.- Mexico’s National Museum of Antropology

Probably the most important museum in Mexico and holder of the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from prehispanic Mayan civilizations to the Spanish conquest.

You can find the museum within Chapultepec Park ( so after/before Chapultepec castle maybe?). Be ready for an astonishing display of Prehispanic cultures than go far beyond the Aztecs and Mayan and into the dephts of Mexico’s history; chronologically and geographically displayed for better understandment, you’ll be mesmerized by the artifacts and works of art of Toltec, Mixtec, Zapotec and Olmec cultures.

You can’t miss the huge Aztec Calendar and just note that not all of the explanations are translated in English so if you are feeling particulary curious and want to learn more, you can hire a guide or rent an English audio guide.

IMPORTANT: The museum is closed on Mondays.

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5.- The Blue House / Frida Kahlo Museum

You can visit the renowned artist’s birthplace, home and deathbed thanks to fellow artist and husband Diego Rivera, who donated the building and its contents in 1958 to be turned into a museum in Frida’s honor. The rooms of the house remain as they were, aside from the works of art displayed within them which not only consist of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s pieces but of other artists, memorabilia, old artifacts and photographs.

A whole and beautiful collection of Mexican Folk Art, owned by the couple and suited so well to their strong cultural identity.

Frida Kahlo was not only one of the biggest representations of Mexico artistically but a fierce and clever woman who left us her work to puzzle over and her words to repeat now and forever.

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? “

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6.- Univercity City

Not just any college campus, the “city” built around The National Autonomous Universit of Mexico; comprising the Olympic Stadium, about 40 faculties and institutes, the Cultural Center, an ecological reserve, the Central Library, and a few museums was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

It is said, that at the time of its completion, it was the largest single construction project in Mexico since the Aztecs. University City is not only rich in the academic world, where it is  regarded by many university world rankings as the leading university of the spanish speaking world.  It is also an urban example of art and has among its buildings a murals from many famous artists.

 My personal favorite work of art is the Central Library. The idea was very innovative in its time:  making a mural  just out of colored tiles, at that scale, was something that hadn’t been done before. The tiles were brought from many different parts of the country because a large number of colors were needed for the construction. As a result we obtained not only a true work of art but a reflection of mexican history in the form of art.  The four sides of the building represent different times in mexican society : Pre-hispanic past, colony past, contemporaneous world, and of course, the University and modern Mexico.

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7.- Great Temple (Templo mayor)

The legend says the god Huitzilopochtli gave the Mexica people his sign that they had reached the promised land on the exact spot where the Great  Temple is located.

In the middle of a lake, an eagle atop a prickly pear cactus devouring a snake.

Thus, the great city of Tenochtitlan was founded.  A lot has changed since then but the Mexican capital has remained in place and though Mexico City has developed into a big metropoli; right at its center you can find the vestiges of the ancient city for exposition. The Great Temple, simultaneously dedicated to the god of war and the god of rain and agriculture passed through many difficulties, particularly during the spanish conquest and was rebuilt 6 times. It may not be at its zenith, but this UNESCO site is nonetheless worth a visit.

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8.- The Palace of Fine Arts

Probably the most notable cultural center in the country. The palace is a striking building and an exemplary  compendium of mexican art. Completed in 1934; a mix of neoclassic, art nouveau and art deco. Best known for its murals by Diego Rivera and Siqueiros; and the National Museum of Architecture which takes up the top floor. Take some time to wander around the various exhibitions and some more to relax at its façade.

The statue here photographed is the work of Fernando Botero, a colombina artist and sculptor famous for creating a style of his own in which every person present in his work is depicted in large, exaggerated volume.

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A couple of face-saving spanish words:

Buenos días – Good morning

Buenas tardes – Good afternoon

Buenas noches – Good evening

Gracias- Thank you

Por favor – please

( We are polite people 🙂  )

BONUS ADVICE :

✓  Never tip less than 10% , this is seen as very rude ( unless the service was lousy which I hope not ) between 10 – 15% is the average.

✓  Do not openly show support for Donald Trump.

 

 

 

 

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