Friday, March 17, 2017

THE HUIPILS OF GUATEMALA AND MEXICO


                        Frida Kahlo and her iconic huipil style in 1938
Image from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art. Photo: Nickolas Muray

Living a "nomadic" life in Latin America for almost sixteen years provided an endless variety of different experiences and delights and not more so than in Mexico and Guatemala. I loved living in these neighboring countries and I still do. Learning about a new country including its cultures and history was a challenge and fascinated me.

Some of my favorite memories included learning about the Mayan culture and their traditions. In Guatemala the Mayan people are very widespread and included some of our neighbors.  In Mexico, a much larger country, the presence of the Mayan culture is still very much evident in the Yucatan peninsula to the region of Oaxaca where we have each lived. 

One aspect of the Mayan culture that engrossed me was their woven textile tradition and one I wish to share. Consequently, this posting is about the indigenous HUIPIL  (Huipil [wipil] from the Nahuatl word huīpīlli [wiːˈpiːlːi]) of the Maya.  I hope you enjoy.  


LINK TO HUIPIL PHOTO ALBUM



Huipil ['wipil] (from the Nahuatl word huīpīlli [wiː'piːlːi]) is the most common traditional garment worn by indigenous women from Mexico and other parts of Central America including Guatemala.

Mayans have been weaving for over two thousand years. In the early 1500’s when Spanish conquistadors arrived they encountered incredibly beautiful textile weavings. Although there have been many changes in types of threads and designs over the centuries, the basic backstrap loom has changed little. In Guatemala and the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico weaving is an integral part of a Maya woman’s daily life and it is an important responsibility she passes on from generation to generation.


An artistic rendering of the meeting of the Spanish conquistadors and the Mayan people in the 1500's with the woman wearing a long formal huipil.



It is possible to find Mayan women still weaving with the traditional backstrap loom.



The bright colors and symbols of these huipils are traditional and each huipil reflects the origin and home of the weaver.

Weaving colorful cotton fabric was an art form among high ranking ancient Mayan women. The Mayas cultivated cotton and used natural dyes from plant, animal, and mineral sources. They used spinning whorls to create thread that was dyed vibrant red, yellow, green, and blue. A backstrap loom was used to weave patterns including Mayan glyphs (symbols), geometric shapes, plants, and flowers.


 The weaving tradition continues in the smaller and more remote communities of Guatemala and to a lesser extent in Mexico.


These lovely ladies and their beautiful huipils were seen in the pueblo of Santiago Sacatepéquez in Guatemala.

Before the Conquest, a woman was expected to weave for herself and her family and to produce ceremonial clothes for use in temples and as offerings. A fine weaver had status in the community as she did as late as the twenty-first century. Clothing and cloth also produced extra income when made for sale.

Children learned by imitation, watching their mothers spin, prepare yarn, warp the loom, and weave. By the age of twelve a Mayan girl had to take her weaving lessons very seriously and by the marrying age of sixteen she had to be an accomplished weaver.



During our first visit to Guatemala we visited a village outside of Antigua where we could watch the women weave on the traditional backstrap loom.



A group of traditionally dressed Mayan women and child in their colorful huipils, skirts, and shawls in Guatemala.


The huipil in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula is made of light cotton and embroidered with colorful designs in consideration of the hot climate of the region.

The backstrap loom has been in use in Mexico and Central America since the 1500's.  Classic Maya ceramic figurine recovered from Jaina Island off the eastern coast of Mexico is of a weaver at her backstrap loom. This loom is sometimes called the hip-loom, or stick-loom. Although both male and female indigenous weavers produce cloth on this simple apparatus, it is largely associated with women.


This lovely lady and her colorful one-of-a-kind huipil is from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.



The ceremonial huipil of Zinacantán, Chiapas is distinguished by its manufacture and symbolism. It is often made of white cotton with a square neckline or with a vertical opening with a button fastener. 

The chest area is marked off with a red line inside of which are white chicken feathers delicately fastened with white, blue or green thread. The lower border has fringe made of the same materials and colors. It is the only garment in Mexico which uses the pre-Hispanic art of feather work today. This huipil is often used for weddings as it is believed that it ensures a good marriage.

The upper garment or huipil is the most important component of a woman's clothing. Nahua was the language of the Aztecs and is still spoken in many Mexican communities. The huipil can be short or long, of two or three backstrap pieces joined together, and with neck and arm openings. Designs are woven in as part of the weaving process as embroidery and may include ribbons or other trim.  



Amuzgo textiles are those created by the Amuzgo indigenous people who live in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.  Amuzgo huipils have a sophisticated set of designs based on animals, plants, geometric shapes and more. Some of the designs are not obvious, such as the use of two connected triangles to represent butterflies, but all have a particular significance.




Mayan ladies visiting the town on Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala wearing their traditional huipils and hoping to sell other woven handicrafts to visitors.

The huipil has been worn by indigenous women of the Mesoamerican region (Mexico into Central America) of both high and low social rank since well before the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and subsequent Spanish expansion the huipil endured, but it evolved incorporating elements from other regions and Europe. 


Two lovely young ladies in their traditional vivid blue huipils are from Chichicastenango, a town in the El Quiché department of Guatemala, known for its traditional K'iche' Maya culture.

The huipil remains the most common female indigenous garment still in use. The huipil is most often seen in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Campeche, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Veracruz, and Morelos. In Central America it is most often used among the Mayas in Guatemala.



The huipils of Oaxaca are especially colorful and striking and this young senorita looks especially proud of hers!  


The great variety of motifs and colors as seen in handwoven huipils is amazing and I admit to becoming more than "somewhat"obsessed with them while living in Guatemala!  


The colorful "cross stitching" embroidery and ribbon trim on this huipil is beautiful as is this indigenous woman. 

The huipil is a loose-fitting tunic, generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric which are then joined together with stitching, ribbons or fabric strips with an opening for the head and, if the sides are sewn, openings for the arms. 

Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones, are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric including embroidery, ribbons, and lace. 

Although huipils may often look alike to the untrained eye, they exhibit great variety according to the weaver's ability and the arrangement of specific groups of motifs and colorLengths of the huipil can vary from a short blouse-like garment or long enough to reach the floor.



Huipils are traditionally worn with wrap skirts which may also be embroidered with traditional symbols and designs.  These women were seen at the large weekly market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.



The huipils and trajes (costumes) from the region of Tehauntepec, Mexico are especially beautiful and colorful with their gorgeous embroidery on velvet and satin fabrics.  Frida Kahlo was especially partial to the huipils and trajes of Tehauntepec.

Ceremonial huipils are the most elaborate and are reserved for weddings, burials, and women with greater economic resources. The style of the huipil often indicates the class and ethnicity of the wearer. Huipils were important means of indicating one’s religion and tribal affiliation. Different communities tended to have different designs, colors, lengths, as well as particular huipils for ceremonial purposes.


This collection of trajes (huipil tops with coordinating skirts trimmed in lace) we saw while living in Oaxaca City.  They are from Tehauntepec which is located in the southwestern region of Oaxaca state.  The legendary Frida Kahlo adopted this fashion which became part of her "iconic" look.




Traditional weaving is still found in the indigenous communities of Guatemala, and to a lesser amount in Mexico, but may eventually become a thing of the past.

Huipils and their accompanying skirts reflected distinct social classes. A plain huipil with a wrap-around skirt and hair braids intertwined with ribbons were typically worn by women of limited economic resources. More intricate elements, including ruffles, lace collars, gold fringes, and silk scarves reflected a higher social status. Many public fiestas granted entrance only to women attired in the highest gala clothing.  




Weaving a huipil under the watchful eye of the family gato (cat) is especially special to me as is the lovely huipil.  


The huipils and blouses of Chiapas are a combination of Guatemala embroidery and Mexico lace and cotton as seen in the municipal mercado in San Cristobal de las Casas.


One is never too young to celebrate and dress up as seen in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico where we lived after our return from living in Argentina. (please notice the coordinating sandals and jewelry)  

Contemporary Mayan women continue the tradition of fine weaving in the lovely huipils of Chiapas and Oaxaca in Mexico and in Guatemala. The ancient art of backstrap weaving is still thriving and an entire industry has developed around weaving and textiles. Numerous collectives and individuals produce shawls, spreads, bags, and clothing that have become popular with visitors and collectors from around the world.

 Now if it was as easy as hopping on a handwoven Mayan textile rug and flying off for another visit to these wonderful areas of Guatemala and Mexico I would be very happy. Until then, I will just have to keep my memories alive through this blog.   


This lovely mother and child were neighbors while living on Lago Atitlan in Guatemala.  Aren't they beautiful! 


The people and embroidered huipils of Merida are simply beautiful!  



A beautiful velvet and lace "Frida Kahlo" traje from Tehauntepec, Mexico.



I have created the following photograph album in order to share the amazing variety and beauty of the huipils that may be found in Guatemala and Mexico. It's as easy as clicking on the link following these two lovely ladies:  




LINK TO HUIPIL PHOTO ALBUM


If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments I would sincerely appreciate hearing from you. It's as easy as leaving a comment on this blog page or sending an email directly to me.  Until next time, wishing you happy trails and safe travels.  Laura



A pooped out husband after a day of huipil shopping in Guatemala. I am going to be so dead for publishing this photo, but the devil made me do it!  
                                 






Wednesday, March 1, 2017

THE "JOYS" OF BLOGGING!






  A photograph of how I felt yesterday!

Yesterday I discovered that seven of my most recent posts had been deleted by the cyber "gods" and no longer existed. Needless to say, this was not a good thing. With the extraordinary help of my resident cyber technician we have been able to recover these lost posts. I will now be reformatting them to once again publish them for viewing on this blog. I have just republished my introductory post on Guatemala as a test. If all goes well and the "gods" are happy with me, then I will proceed to republish each and every one of my posts. Consequently, the followers of my blog will be receiving their automatic notices for each re-published posting. I trust that this will not unduly burden your inbox and I sincerely appreciate your understanding. I am also currently creating new posts on other special destinations which I will be sharing with you.  Muchas gracias,  Laura







Thursday, February 16, 2017

MEXICO CITY FOR EATS AND LINKS!

































BUEN PROVECHO (BON APPETIT) FROM MEXICO CITY!

 This is a supplement to my recent blog posting MEXICO CITY: FOR FIRST TIMERS! with additional comments and links I believe will be helpful when visiting Mexico's amazing capital and huge city, Mexico City.


One of the greatest perks of traveling and living in other places and cultures is having the opportunity to experience amazing food.  From humble "street eats" to dining in gourmet dining "palaces" it was all good during our nomadic years.


Check out the cost of Big Macs globally at the following site:
COST OF BIG MAC'S ON THE GLOBAL MARKET 


I do recognize that food is not only necessary, but vital to our well being.  Food maintains our energy and keep our engines running. Food is also restorative to our bodies and without it we wouldn't be going anywhere, both literally and figuratively.  And the joys of food cannot be understated in my humble opinion.


The food stands at Chapultepec Park might not be totally nutritional, but they are certainly abundant!

In this blog posting I am sharing the recommendations made by our hostess while recently visiting Mexico City.  She is not only a native of Mexico City, commonly referred to in slang as a Chilango, but also the owner of a charming nearby local cafe so food is no stranger to her.


Taco stands on the streets of Mexico City are the way to go when you are on the run and hungry!  

The format of this posting also includes a very cool web app which my husband
just introduced me to last night. It is GOOGLE MAPS and I love it! My husband has definitely been my internet enabler.  Not only that, but he was the one who suggested I start a blog. I often remind him that it was his suggestion and encouragement which lead me to this blog experience. Consequently, in my opinion, he has no right to complain when he is being ignored by his "blog monster." Wouldn't you agree?


I recently found this treasure of a book which was published in 1974!  It describes living in Mexico at that time and I find it truly special.

For lovers of maps and photographs the new GOOGLE MAPS app is truly amazing.  I thank the Google gods for this new technology and hope you will also find it useful and fun to play with.


The color of Mexican "junk food" is simply glorious. Note the different colors of the potato chips (on the lower left corner) which determines their spiciness!

Following are Leonor's recommendations for local and authentic Mexican food in Mexico City. When you click on the link for each restaurant, the Google "gods" will take you to a map showing the restaurant's location (great for use on your mobile device when you are on the road) and photographs of the restaurant OR whatever you choose. 

With this technology there is no excuse for staying home! You can google anything and anywhere you want and you will get the map, directions, and photographs. So have fun and let me know what you think.

The link for the lovely AIRBNB apartment in Condesa where we stayed is:
LEONOR'S HISTORIC AIRBNB


Don't you love the architecture of this Mexico City historical complex!


Walking the streets outside of our Airbnb apartment was not just for people! 

Leonor’s Betanzos Eats Recommendations:

“The following are well established restaurants with traditional foods which we locals enjoy. They are not “trendy modern,” but real Mexican cuisine. Buen provecho!”

Coyoacan: Los Danzantes, good mezcal  LOS DANZANTES

San Ángel:
San Ángel Inn: Great French style breakfast at their gourmet cafe.
At the main restaurant, an old hacienda, the best Margaritas and good Mexican food.   SAN ANGEL INN
At San Jacinto Square in San Angel on Saturdays during Bazzar day: Fonda San Angel, delicious budget Mexican buffet.   FONDA SAN ANGEL


                               SAN ANGEL INN

Downtown :
Café Tacuba     CAFE TACUBA
El Cardenal de calle de Palma  EL CARDENAL
Café la Ópera   CAFE LA OPERA


                                        EL CARDENAL
                  
"Old" downtown:
Roldan 37 Cocina Mexicana:  Chiles, moles
ROLDAN 37 COCINA MEXICANA

Polanco:
Ivoire: French style and great for breakfast  IVOIRE
El Capri: Italian (the best old style) EL CAPRI
El Péndulo: easy going library, restaurant, and cafe bar website: http://pendulo.com/paginas/quienesSomo


What's not to love about the setting at IVOIRE in Mexico City!  

Roma:
La Ostra: see food (get there before 2 or make reservation)  LA OSTRA
El Péndulo  EL PENDULO

The cafe EL PENDULO is also a major bookstore - my kind of place!  

For Great Spanish food:
Cantina la Numero 1: mariachis on weekends, but very crowded.
CANTINA LA #1
La Casa de Castilla at Camino Real hotel on Mariano Escobedo St.
LA CASA DE CASTILLA (CAMINO REAL HOTEL)


What would Mexico be without the traditional sound and music of mariachis while dining?   

For Barbacoa and traditional Mexican breakfast on saturdays and/or sundays:  El Hidalguense on Campeche Street  EL HIDALGUENSE

Condesa:
Mexsi-Bocu: French-Mex fusion (we ate there twice!)  MEXSI BOCU


Mexsi Bocu was only a five minute walk from our Condesa apartment and the food and staff were muy bueno!    

For Mole:
La Poblanita:   LA POBLANITA

For nice and trendy tacos:
El Califa in Alfonso Reyes Street, Condesa (they have delivery)  EL CALIFA
El Kaliman Tacos, Roma for all night tacos:  EL KALIMAN TACO

And last but not least, Leonor Betanzos' Cafe Fiona in Condesa: 
This small and charming cafe is owned and managed by our AIRBNB hostess. A delightful continental breakfast was included at Cafe Fiona with our AIRBNB stay. Leonor can also give cooking classes including shopping at local markets.    CAFE FIONA


Here is Fiona the namesake for Cafe Fiona in Condesa.  



Many thanks, Leonor, for these restaurant recommendations. We look forward to visiting as many as possible on our next visit to your wonderful Mexico City. Laura

Friday, February 10, 2017

MEXICO CITY: FOR FIRST TIMERS!


  Pre-Hispanic Mexico City as depicted in one of Diego Rivera's many astounding murals

It may be difficult to believe and I am more than somewhat embarrassed to say but after living in México and other Latin American countries for over twenty years my husband and I had never visited México City. We had driven around and through it, we had been bused around and through it, we had flown over it, but we had never spent a night or day in the capital of México. We had been intimidated by it’s “Big Bad Boy” reputation for years.

It was time to right this horrible wrong! We recently returned from a visit to México City where we barely “scratched the surface” of this incredible megalopolis. We found Ciudad de México to be friendly, fascinating, vibrant, interesting, and fun. I can say I was totally captivated by this huge and sprawling city and am already looking forward to a return visit. As Tony Bourdain might say, “I am ready for more!

This is the first of a number of blog postings I am planning on México City. As an introduction I firmly believe it’s a good idea to share some interesting facts about México City as a precursor to our excursion. Ready? Let’s meet México City!


The letters of the new acronym of México City (Ciudad de México in Spanish) are seen everywhere in the city in hot pink and black!

México’s sprawling capital changed its official name in January, 2016 as it launched steps to become virtually like a federal state. For the past two centuries, the city has been known as “DF” from its official name of México Distrito Federal, or Federal District. But now the city of nearly nine million will be known as Ciudad de México City (México City) or CDMX. Just like the US capital of Washington, México City is distinct from the other thirty one states that make up the rest of the country of México.

As for the name of the new entity, there are some concerns over the confusion it might create given that México City will be the official name of the capital city of a country which is also named México which is also located within the State of México. All we have to remember, however, is in this context “México” is the city and we will be just fine!



Flying into México City at sunset gives you an inkling of the enormity of this city.

México City (Spanish: Ciudad de México and abbreviated as "CDMX"), is the capital and most populous city of Mexico. México City sits atop the highland Valley of México (Valle de México) at nearly 7,392 feet above sea level. Along the city's southeast side are two volcanoes: Popocatepetl (currently acting up!) and Iztaccihuatl. The weather is warm with an average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit, but can be quite chilly during the winter months. Residents of México City are known as Chilangos which is Mexican slang for residents of México City.



 México City is located in the highlands of central México near the Volcanoes Popocatepetl (currently acting up!) and Iztaccihuatl.

The estimated population of the city proper is approximately nine million people and according to the most recent estimates the greater México City population is 21.2 million people. This makes it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and also the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world! All of which begs the question: how does one count and estimate a number that great?


México City must have been an amazing sight to the Spanish and I'm guessing the thought of not conquering this magnificent city never entered their minds.

México's capital is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by Amerindians (Native Americans), the other being Quito. The city was originally built on an island in Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 and was known as Tenochtitlán. It was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan by the Spanish conquistadors. It was subsequently rebuilt by the Spanish in their traditional Spanish urban standards that existed at the time.  It must have been truly amazing!  

In 1524 the municipality of México City was established and known as México Tenochtitlán. In 1585 it became officially known as Ciudad de México. It served as the political, administrative, and financial center of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire. After independence from Spain was achieved, the federal district was created in 1824.

Some of the amazing sites we will be visiting in México City include the following clockwise from top: Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, Chapultepec Castle, Chapultepec Park and Gardens, National Palace, The Plaza Constitution, Museum of Anthropology, and Palace of Fine Arts.

Now as an "alpha global city" México City is also one of the most important financial centers in the Americas. México City certainly has come a long way over the centuries!

Population Facts about México City
  • More than 20 million people live in México City proper and its extended metropolitan area.
  • The population of México City has grown by more than 20 million people in just over 110 years from 500,000 in 1900 to 21.2 million people in 2012.
  •  México City is the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world.
  • Over 600,000 U.S. Americans live in Mexico City which is the largest concentration of Americans living outside of the USA.
Cultural Facts about México City

  • México City has the most museums in the world with more than 160 almost all of which are free on Sundays!
  • The city also has over 100 art galleries and 30 concert halls.
  •  México City has the fourth highest number of theaters in the world after New York, London, and Toronto.
  • The Museo Soumaya, was donated to the city by the then world's richest man, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.
  • The 10,000-seat National Auditorium in México City was named the Best Venue in the world.
Economy Facts about México City

  • México City is the eighth richest city in the world.
  • It is the richest city in Latin America.
  • Mexico City is home to the world’s second richest man, Carlos Slim, who is preceded by Bill Gates who recently moved up to first position.      

The Museo Soumaya was built and donated to the city by Méxican tycoon Carlos Slim in memory of his wife.  Certainly has a stunning WOW factor, doesn't it!  

Getting to know México City can definitely seem overwhelming because of its size and the vast amount of sites and places to visit. In order to avoid this uncomfortable feeling I would suggest limiting yourself to one or two venues each day as we did. After all, we don’t want to do and see it all on our first visit even if it were humanly possible which it certainly isn't! And after getting a taste of the city I am guessing you will want to return again and again as I do.

Here are my recommendations for the first time visitor to México City as we were. It will give you a slight idea of what you can expect and if you are like me, it will wet your appetite for more.


The Historic Center and Plaza (Centro Historico y Zocalo)




México City was built in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors on the ruins of the old Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. In the southeast corner of the Zocalo is the spot where Hernan Cortes is said to have met Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, in 1519. The zocalo ranks alongside Moscow’s Red Square and Beijing’s Tiananmen Square as one of the world’s largest city squares.

The vast plaza is flanked by the 16th century baroque Catedral Metropolitana de México (Metropolitan Cathedral of México City) and the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) which is the seat of the federal executive in branch in México which houses historic murals by Diego Rivera and others.

The Zócalo is also known for its Templo Mayor, the 13th century Aztec temple, from which the conquistadors built the Metropolitan Cathedral of México City.


The Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)



The construction and decoration of this cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, took nearly three centuries. Construction began in 1573 and the building was dedicated, although still unfinished, in 1656. The cathedral is a composite of different style as a result of being built over such a long extended period of time.



The interior of the cathedral is as impressive as its exterior with many retablos (a frame or shelf enclosing decorated panels or revered objects above and behind an altar) dating from the 16th and 17th Centuries.


The Great Temple (Templo Mayor)




The Great Temple was the main temple of the Aztecs and was only part of a much larger sacred center of the great city of Tenochtitlan which may have contained as many as 78 buildings. This temple was dedicated to the rain god, Tlaloc, and the god of war, Huitzilopitchli. The temple went through several phases of construction with each covering over previous layers in order to make the building bigger.

Excavation of the great temple began in 1978 when the stone sculpture of the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui was unearthed by electric company workers.This piece and many others found here are on display in the Templo Mayor museum which was inaugurated in 1987.


The National Palace (Palacio Nacional)

















The National Palace is home to the offices of the president of Mexico and the Federal Treasury and is located on the East side of the Zocalo. This site has been a palace for the ruling class of Mexico since the Aztec empire and much of the current palace's building materials are believed to be from the original one that belonged to Moctezuma II.

To celebrate Mexican independence from Spain every year on September 16th at midnight, the president of Mexico rings a bell from the central balcony of the National Palace and shouts: "Viva Mexico!" The crowd gathered in the Zocalo responds in return: "Viva!" This annual tradition is referred to as “El Grito” (the shout) which called for independence from Spain and started the war of independence which lasted from 16 September 1810 to 27 September 1821. It is re-enacted and celebrated in each and every pueblo, town, and city throughout México on the l6th of September, Mexican Independence Day.



Inside this grandiose colonial palace you can see Diego Rivera murals (painted between 1929 and 1951) that depict Mexican civilization from the arrival of Quetzalcoatl (the Aztec plumed serpent god) to the post-revolutionary period of the 1930’s. The nine murals covering the north and east walls of the first level above the patio chronicle indigenous life before the Spanish conquest. They are simply marvelous and cannot be missed!








The Great City of Tenochtitlan ("Market At Tenochtitlán") by Diego Rivera at the National Palace in Mexico City.


The Fine Arts Palace (Palacio de Bellas Artes)





It is an easy walk from the Plaza with a stop along the way for an energy-restoring traditional lunch before reaching the elegant Fine Arts Palace which is architecturally and artistically one of the most beautiful public buildings we have ever experienced.




The Fine Arts Palace been called the "Cathedral of Art in México" and is considered to be the most important theater and the most important cultural center in México City. It was declared an artistic monument in 1987 by UNESCO.


The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the most beautiful museums and theaters we have ever experienced (I think I have already said that!).


A little history: President Porfirio Diaz ordered the construction of this building in the early 1900's. He planned to inaugurate it as part of the celebrations of the centenary of México's independence from Spain. The Mexican Revolution, however, broke out in 1910 and interrupted its construction and completion. As a result it was not completed until 1934. With its marble Beaux-Arts exterior which is lit in pink and lilac in the evening and its Art Deco interior this Palace of Fine arts is truly a dramatic structure.

The most stunning attraction of the Fine Arts Palace, however, is the stage "curtain" which is a stained glass fold able panel created out of nearly a million pieces of iridescent colored glass by Tiffany's in New York. This stage curtain is the only one of its type in any opera house in the world and weighs 24 tons. The design of the curtain has the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl in the center.


The stage "curtain" made by Tiffany in 1912 will leave you speechless. It is an incredible mosaic of a million 3/4 inch crystals composing the landscape of the Valley of Mexico.


Also found in the Palace of Fine Arts are the brilliant murals painted by Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, the most famous names of Mexican muralism. The Fine Arts Palace is without a doubt a must-visit destination and not to be missed on a trip to México City!


One last thing to mention: the top floor of the Fine Arts Palace which is covered by a glass and iron roof contains exhibitions from renowned Mexican architects including models, plans, and photographs of major works. There is definitely something for everyone!  



























The Central Post Office is located in downtown México City. This ornate “palace” was designed by the Italian architect Adamo Boari who also made the plans for the Fine Arts Palace. President Porfirio Diaz inaugurated the building in 1907. The impressive interior of the Post Office Palace is definitely not like any post office I have ever seen and is simple gorgeous!


Chapultepec Park and Chapultepec Castle (Bosque de Chapultepec y Castillo de Chapultepec)




Chapultepec Park, more commonly called the Forest of Chapultepec or Bosque de Chapultepec in México City, is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere with a size of approximately l,700 acres. The name Chapultepec stems from the Nahuatl word chapoltepēc which means "at the grasshopper's hill."




Also to be found in this lovely green oasis in México City is the Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle) which is located on top of Chapultepec Hill in the middle of the Park. The Mexican Emperor Maximilian I and his consort Empress Carlota lived there during the Second Mexican Empire. This makes it the only royal castle in North America that was actually used as the residence of a sovereign.




The site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs, and the buildings atop it have served multiple purposes including that of a Military Academy, an Imperial residence, a Presidential home, an observatory, and presently the National Museum of History.


And finally, we have arrived at my very, very place to visit in Mexico City:  El Museo Nacional de Antropología (The National Museum of Anthropology)





As many of you might have surmised I have a great interest in history, culture, and travel. But my greatest unrequited passion is for anthropology and archaeology. I had heard and read that the National Museum of Anthropology in México was rated #1 in the WORLD. And now I can say without a doubt that it did not fail any of my expectations. It was beyond wonderful and fantastic. So much so that it is on the top of my list for reasons to return to México City as soon as possible.




The National Museum of Anthropology of México City contains the most significant collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts to be found anywhere in the world. Sculptures, stelae, and frescoes of Aztec, Toltec, Olmec, and Maya are found in this fabulous architectural setting. These lost civilizations are represented and displayed in such a manner that is simply stunning. 


The Aztec sun disk, the museum’s breathtaking centerpiece, is there to behold and admire along with hundreds of thousands of other incredible artifacts.

The National Museum of Anthropology (Spanish: Museo Nacional de Antropología) is located in Chapultepec Park and is the largest and most visited museum in México City. An astounding collection of anthropological, ethnological, and archaeological materials the date from the pre-Hispanic period.   


I felt as though my digital camera might go into shock and never recover from this amazing museum and its outstanding collections.  Click, click, click......


Trying on my Aztec headdress at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City and it fit perfectly!


Closing comments: Some of the places I would like to visit on our next trip to México City include the following which you might also want to check out:

Much, much more of the National Museum of Anthropology:  WIKIPEDIA LINK

Teotihuacán Mesoamerican pyramids and ruins:  TEOTIHUACAN

Frida Kahlo Museum:  FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM

Diego Rivera Museum:   DIEGO RIVERA MUSEUM

Xochimilco:  XOCHIMILCO

And check out the México City UNESCO sites and you will be dazzled:
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES

P.S. I would recommend the following when planning your visit to México City:  Booking an apartment through Airbnb, Inc., using UBER for transportation, and staying in La Condesa neighborhood, and having dinner at the convenient and friendly Mexsi Bocu restaurant.  


I hope you have enjoyed my introduction to México City as much as I have had sharing this amazing city. I will definitely be posting more about México City in the near future. As always, I look forward to hearing from you with your questions, comments, and suggestions. And sharing this blog with your family and friends is very, very much appreciated.  Until then, wishing you happy trails and safe travels! Laura


                                         CHEERS FROM MEXICO CITY!