Mexico City, once the biggest city in the world and still the biggest city in the Americas, has more than enough museums to keep its 20 million + residents satisfied: over 100, the most of any city in the world.
An exact count is not really possible considering that new museums and galleries open every month, but seemingly every subject is covered. Do you like classic cars? Check out the Museo del Automóvil (Automobile Museum), in the south of the city. Are you fascinated by European decorative arts? You won’t want to miss Museo Franz Mayer, near the Alameda Central and home to a rich collection of tapestries, furnishings, and garments. Eager to learn more about the struggle for indigenous women’s rights? You should visit the Museo de la Mujer (Museum of the Woman), a few blocks east of Plaza Garibaldi. Curious about the agave harvest? The Museo del Tequila y El Mezcal, (Museum of Tequila and Mezcal) in Plaza Garibaldi itself, is for you – and admission includes a free tequila shot!
Some of the museums are real oddities. The delightful Museo de Arte Popular (Popular Art Museum), housed in an Art Deco firehouse south of the Alameda Central, displays fanciful alebrijes – colorful folk art sculptures that feature in an elaborate parade each October. The Museo de la Medicina (Museum of Medicine), near Plaza San Jacinto in the Centro Histórico, has more exhibits of aborted fetuses and genital warts than even the strongest stomach can handle. The adjacent Museo de la Inquisición (Inquisition Museum), which shares the same building, is of the disturbing-and-yet-I-can’t-avert-my-eyes variety. And Anahacualli, south of Coyoacán, is a cool and spooky stone hacienda that resembles an Aztec temple of sorts and that houses Diego Rivera’s formidable collection of pre-Hispanic idols.
I was inspired to write this post at the suggestion of my fellow blogger William, a retired English teacher who now spends half the year in Mexico City. (Life goals – en serio!) Check out his writings at ilovemexico2013.blogspot.com. In the meantime, here are my Top Ten Mexico City Museums:
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You probably know that the entirety of Mexico City’s Centro Histórico is walkable, with a concrete grid of sidewalks connecting every inch of the city’s storied, teeming humanity between Lázaro Cárdenas (Eje Central) in the west, Anillo de Circunvalación in the east, Granaditas (Eje 1 Norte) in the north, and José María Izazaga in the south. If that isn’t enough, no fewer than 10 metro stations, one metrobús route, and a cable-powered trolebús (not to mention countless peseros) pass through those same storied streets, ferrying commuters hither and yon.
Wider, better-maintained sidewalks link the Centro Histórico with the city’s green lung, Bosque de Chapultepec, via Palacio de Bellas Artes and Paseo de Reforma, the city’s grandest thoroughfare. Plans are underway to build a seventh metrobús line that will supposedly run along Reforma, but since public transportation improvements move at a caracol’s pace in CDMX, I will believe it when I see it.
My casual stroll this past February along the Ferrocarril de Cuernavaca, a railway line-turned-walking and cycling path, prompted me to wax further nostalgic about the walkability of Mexico City in general…not just in the aforementioned city center area, but in outlying sections of the city as well. Traffic congestion has become such a problem that a recent CNN Money article named the city as having the second-worst traffic on the planet! To me, any chance to walk, rather than drive, is a welcome one.
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I have decided to introduce a new feature on this blog that I hope to turn into a monthly recurrence: the Photo Locale of the Month.
Each month, I’ll highlight a particular place from my travels – not just a city but a specific site within that city – and I’ll introduce it to you through pictures.
As always, all images are the property of GringoPotpourri unless credited otherwise.
For the first month, I thought I’d feature a favorite place from what is perhaps my favorite city in the world. The place is Chapultepec Castle and the city is Mexico City.
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Mexico City is filled with a variety of lovely green spaces. Internationally, they are not as renowned as, say, New York City’s Central Park, Munich’s English Gardens, or Beijing’s Summer Palace Grounds. But they are glorious places in and of themselves – green lungs for a city that needs as many as it can get.
Nearly every neighborhood has a park of some kind. Usually the park has a fountain or two, a statue to some local or national hero, park benches, jacaranda or pine trees, and a playground. Some, like Parque Hundido along Avenida Insurgentes, feature tourist trains on a fixed circuit. Others, like Parque de los Venados in Colonia Del Valle, feature small ferias (amusement parks). The best of the best of Mexico City’s public parks – Chapultepec and Bosque de Aragón – feature trains, ferias, and much, much more.
The grand daddy of Mexico City parks is Chapultepec Park. “Chapultepec” means “hill of the grasshoppers” in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. This park, located due west of the Centro Histórico, is divided into three sections across 686 hectares (1,695 acres). The first two sections are especially lovely, and Sección 1a is a veritable treasure trove.
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I love top ten lists. Call me a geek if you want, it’s okay. Whatever the list, if it’s a top ten something, there’s a good chance I’ll read it. I probably have read it. Top ten Presidential quotes. Top ten “Seinfeld” episodes. Top ten ballparks. Top ten Chicago hot dog shacks. Top ten one-hit wonders (yes, 80’s emo band A-ha is in there). Top ten movies of the year. Top ten movies by genre.
And don’t even get me started on travel top ten lists. Lonely Planet has dozens of them. Travel + Leisure has dozens more. From “Top Ten Places to Ring in the New Year” to “Top Ten Multi-Day Hikes” to “Top Ten Places for Wildlife Watching,” you really can pick your poison. (Note: If I named any of those without crediting the actual publication in which they appeared, please accept my apologies. I really just pulled ‘em out of thin air.)
For my blogging (and your reading) pleasure, here’s my own top ten list – city-specific, to keep the list manageable.
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