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April 12, 2011

a history of mexico ...

Another photo-heavy travel post ahead ...

The Zócalo in Mexico City (officially the Plaza de la Constitución) is huge - one of the largest town squares in the world - and has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times.  (And while we were there, thousands of folks had gathered to protest the US's War on Drugs and the effect it's having on Mexico.)  The Palacio Nacional, which houses the office of the President, among other things, is also on the Zócalo.  And a monumental mural in the center staircase by Diego Rivera is one of it's star attractions.

Married to Frida Kahlo, he was many things: a patriot, a Communist who paved the way for Leon Trotsky to seek exile in Mexico City, and an artist seemingly influenced by time in Paris when stuff was happening in the modern art world.  Coming out on the post-impressionist side of it all with simple shapes and bright colors that dominated most of his most iconic work.  The mural in the staircase details Rivera's interpretation of Mexico's history (and where he thought she was headed).

There was also a museum with paintings, artifacts, and furniture bearing witness to the last 200 years of Mexico history.  A long hallway of historic flags was particularly cool. 


The Palace is massive and takes up an entire side of the Zócalo.  This is the Grand Courtyard, one of 14.  (Sorta' reminds me of the Doge's Palace in Venice from this vantage point.) 

A few more photos of the courtyard ...


Rivera planned 11 more murals for the middle floor of the palace depicting Mexico's contributions to the world, but they were never finished. 


And like the ginormous mural in the staircase, also outside.


An interior shot ...

Reminders that it's still an active government building are ever-present.  Security with machine guns flanking the arches.  Cameras everywhere.  Photos weren't allowed in most of the rooms, but they were lovely.  And somewhat French-inspired (and chandeliers that reminded me of the ones at Versailles.) 

After touring the small part of the Palace open to the Public, we exited into another courtyard in the back.  There's a lot of activity there, along with a busy, more modern office complex.  And where the Palace felt a little dark, it was bright and sunny here. 

With giant cacti.

And pretty flowers. 

We skipped the afternoon break to see Templo Mayor before it closed.  It's just a short walk across the street from the Palace, along the side of the Cathedral ...

... through throngs of folks selling stuff.   Like straw hats, beaded things, and plastic Aztec trinkets.

And into the ruins of an Aztec temple.  Right in the heart of the city.  Crazy.  Here's a few of my favorite shots in the ruins ...


Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) was the Aztec capital.  After it's destruction, Templo Mayor (like the rest of the city), was covered over by the Spanish.


And then the temple's location was forgotten.

Folks guessed the temple was underneath the Cathedral, but in the 70's workers digging for the electric company discovered a huge disc depicting the Aztec moon goddess - off to the side of the church.  Said moon goddess was the sister of one of the gods the temple had been dedicated to, so this tipped them off that they'd guessed wrong on the temple's location.   There's a pretty convoluted story that goes with it about the brother (the god of war) that kills the sister (the moon goddess), because she killed their mother and how that affected the sunset and sunrise.  

Regardless, the 600 year old disc that helped pinpoint the temple's location is on display in the museum attached to the site.

Most of the artifacts excavated from the site were sacrificial in nature, but others were simply ornamental.  This is one of the eagle warriors excavated from the site.  The Eagle Warriors were a priviledged class and, you guessed it, dressed like eagles.   

A shrine of human skulls, covered in plaster, forming walls ...

The museum on the site was dramatically laid out.  We climbed up through galleries (like climbing up temple steps), before getting to the top floor and the dramatic views of some of the most significant pieces laid out below.

And it was inside.  In relative cool. 

Mexico50After exploring the ruins in the sun, during the hottest part of a 90 degree day, we were beat, somewhat sunburned, and craving a cold drink.  Leaving the temple, we picked up more water (the 7-Eleven next door proved very handy) and crashed in the hotel for a couple of hours.  Later that night we went out for dinner, walked to the performing arts center - Bellas Artes - to see the statues outside, and ended the night with Churros.  Again.

More to come ...


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lovely reading with my morning coffee. looking forward to more!

I'm enjoying your travel journal. And, now I have a hankering for churros. Too bad the closest panaderia is 30+ minutes away. I might have to try to make some of my own!

I adore your travel journals. Yay!

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Hi! I'm Heather, and welcome to my blog! I stamp, I travel, I make stuff, I cook, I take tons of photos - and you'll find a little of all of that here!

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