City of Palaces

Mexico City is divided into sections called “Delegaciones”, 16 of them. The city has grown and engulfed several small towns and these then are called Delegaciones. A consequence of this expansion is that each Delegación has its own unique feel with plazas, government buildings and representatives. Mexico City is set at an average altitude of 2,300mt (7,550ft) but reaches 3,800mt (12,500ft) in places. With a population of over 20 million people, it’d be ridiculous not to expect chaos in a city this big; what is surprising is how well the city functions in spite of it. Mexico City is the city with the most museums in the world with more than a hundred of them and we wish we had time to see them all.

A friend lent us her car and although at first we were wary of driving here because we thought we’d be out of practice, it all came back fast and we’ve remembered how much fun driving in this city is. We’ve spent most of our time reconnecting with old friends and we’re having a blast. Although our friends all look just like the last time we saw them, it’s been a real shock to see their kids all grown now, several of them are even taller than we are!

We took the oportunity to visit the “Zocalo” as the central plaza is called. The Federal Palace, which is where government business is conducted is located on a side of it

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with the Cathedral on another side.

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When the Spanish arrived they were amazed by the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs arrived here from Aztlan in the north on July 25, 1325 and found Lake Texcoco. In the middle of this lake on a little piece of land they found an eagle, which had a snake in its claws, perched on top of a cactus. This was the sign that their god, Huiztchilopoztli, had told them they’d find in the place where they should settle; and so Tenochtitlan was built on top of floating patches of land constructed by the Aztecs (or Mexicas) from reeds and mud all tied together. The city was thus surrounded by water with bridges connecting to the mainland on only three sides.

After the conquest, the Spanish destroyed the temples and used the stones to build the Cathedral right on top and even for some of their houses. The ruins of the “Templo Mayor” (Great Temple) beside the cathedral were uncovered in 1978 and opened to the public.

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This massive monolith of the goddess Tlaltecuhtli was uncovered here in 2006 and opened to the public in 2009. Excavations on this site are ongoing and I’m sure there is still tons more to come.

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Mexico City is also called the City of Palaces because it has so many of them. This is the Postal Palace, it was built during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz in 1902.

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Díaz was enamored with French culture and that is very apparent in all buildings built during his time. The first floor is still a functioning post office, while the upper floors house the Naval Museum and rotating exhibits.
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Across the street lies the Fine Arts Palace. Along with an art museum housing works by great artists the likes of Rufino Tamayo and itinerant exhibits, this Palace also hosts performances by the National Ballet Company, the Philarmonic, Operas and myriad more.

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“La Alameda Central”, a huge park, lies to the north of it. A monument dedicated to Benito Juárez, the only indigenous president México has had, is located here.
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Across from the park is the “Museo Mural Diego Rivera”.

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After visiting all these places, the boys were clamoring for food and rest so we headed for some “Tacos al Pastor”. We are filling up on them knowing full well that we won’t have them anymore once we leave.

A couple of days later, we visited the Castle of Chapultepec.

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Chapultepec was, in Aztec times, a hill located outside the city of Tenochtitlan and used by the “Tlatoanis” (kings or rulers) as their vacation place. It’s name means hill of the grasshoppers and was revered because of the natural springs which supplied fresh water to the city. Today, Chapultepec is a huge park where people come to relax, eat and have fun. Inside the park are several museums, restaurants, theaters, a lake, and tons of street vendors.

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The Spanish continued using Chapultepec as their resting place, as did the Emperor Maximilian and his wife Carlota, sent by Napoleon himself to rule Mexico in 1864. After they were overthrown in 1867, it was used as the presidential house and then as the National Military Academy until 1944 when it was turned into the National History Museum.

We have also taken the opportunity to go to the theater. There are so many great shows to see, some quite inexpensive, that it’s a struggle just choosing a few. Seeing the boys enthralled by a performance is truly priceless.

Don’t think that it all has been learning and high culture though, we also took some time out to visit the soccer stadium, “Estadio Azteca”, home to the America club and the only stadium in the world to have been host to two world cups.

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It was here during the world cup of 1986, that Argentina won the semi-final tournament against England with the help of Maradona’s “hand of God” and here is the picture that proves it.

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There are so many things to see and do in this city that we find ourselves running out of time and not wanting to leave.

Categories: Mexico, North America, UNESCO site | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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  1. Pingback: No Place Like Home | MyFamilyTravels

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