This past month, I returned to Mexico City and its historic main square – the Zócalo. My wife and I journeyed there in the spring of 2015 as I had two documentary films I directed playing at the Shorts Mexico Film Festival. It was the very first trip my wife and I took on our own since our honeymoon weekend in chilly Montauk, NY, back in April of 1998. We had a wonderful time during our five days there and it would be the first of many trips we would take since that time. It was a trip I’ll never forget.
This particular return trip was one I had planned with my wife a couple of years ago but we were unable to find the proper time for it. It wasn’t just a pleasure trip either. For the past several years, I’ve been in need of a dental implant to cover an area in my upper mouth where a crown had fallen off. And damned if I was gonna pay $5000 for one here in South Florida. So after much online research and positive reviews, I made an appointment with Ideal Dental in Mexico City and had my implant put in on the first day of my trip (cost me only $1400!). Felt fine the following day and after a thumbs up on my follow-up appointment a few days later, I was on my way to visit a few other cities.
Mexico City was where our trip would begin and then we would head east to Querétaro, then to San Miguel de Allende, then to Guanajuato, then back to MC. Alas, as some of you know, my wife passed away this past September. So it created another travel opportunity for my daughter and I (we did Spain back in December) and she was looking forward to having another country stamped on her passport (not to mention a cavity filled and a good cleaning!). We kept the same itinerary as I had planned with my wife so SUBSCRIBE HERE if you want to check out photographs from the other cities (and trust me on this, you’re gonna want to).
During our five days in Mexico City, we stayed a few nights at this terrific Airbnb (Cristina is a Superhost and was a pleasure dealing with) and a few nights at the very same hotel where Mrs. Perez and I stayed during our trip in 2015 – the lovely Hotel Catedral right in the Zócalo. The folks here treated us like family, the restaurant has a great selection of food at great prices (hot breakfasts made to order!) and the 7th floor terrace has a view of the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. Highly recommended. We ate mostly at the hotel (why not?) but we did venture out to eat at two great restaurants (both recommended by Cristina), Limosneros and Cafe de Tacuba. Great food and ambiance at both places (thanks, Cristina!).
The historic center of Mexico City (Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México) is the central neighborhood in Mexico City and it extends in all directions for a number of blocks. It contains 9,000 buildings, 1,550 of which have been declared of historical importance. Most of these historic buildings were constructed between the 16th and 20th centuries. The Centro Histórico contains most of the city’s historic sites from both eras as well as a large number of museums. This has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mexico City’s historic center is gritty, chaotic and dynamic; operating through its own bustling energy as if on some sort of unexplainable cruise control. The streets? Packed with people and vendors (many of them shouting). And the traffic? Insane. But through it all, life in this city of almost 9 million people (making Mexico City the most populous metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere) seems to go on just fine on its own. So before you die, plan a trip to Mexico City. And if you’re in South Florida, Jetblue flies there direct from Fort Lauderdale. Nuff said.
The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos!) is the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. The cathedral was built in sections from 1573 to 1813. Spanish architect Claudio de Arciniega planned the construction, drawing inspiration from Gothic cathedrals in Spain.
The Metropolitan Tabernacle, situated to the right of the main cathedral, was built by Lorenzo Rodríguez during the height of the Baroque period between 1749 and 1760 to house the archives and vestments of the archbishop. It continues to function as a place to receive Eucharist and register parishioners.
Inside the Tabernacle, we caught a christening ceremony…
View of the Tabernacle from the rear before heading over to the larger Cathedral next door…
Images from inside the Cathedral.
Outside the Cathedral, in the main square in central Mexico City, also called the Zócalo, Aztec dancers perform…
Aztec Shaman performing centuries-old cleansing rituals.
Organ grinders, clad in their traditional beige uniforms and a black kepi (cap with a flat circular top and a visor) arrived in Mexico in the late 1800s from Europe. 130 years later they are still a common sight on the streets of Mexico City; earning an average of 200 pesos (US $10) a day.
Our next stop was the Museo Nacional de Arte which is home to a large collection representing the history of Mexican art from the mid-sixteenth century to the mid 20th century. View the full set of photographs HERE
Beautiful Alameda Central is a public urban park in downtown Mexico City. Created in 1592, the park area was once an Aztec marketplace and is now the oldest public park in the Americas.
On the south side of the park, facing toward the street is the Hemiciclo a Juárez, which is a large white semi-circular monument to Benito Juárez, who is one of Mexico’s most beloved presidents.
Chinatown? Yeah, Mexico City has one (Barrio Chino) but it’s just a few blocks long.
The Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is a prominent cultural center in Mexico City. It has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. The initial design and construction was undertaken by Italian architect Adamo Boari in 1904, but construction was stopped completely by 1913 due to complications arising from the soft subsoil. Construction began again in 1932 under Mexican architect Federico Mariscal and was completed in 1934. The Palacio is also home to the Ballet Folklórico de México.
Inside, the Palacio de Bellas Artes is best known for its stunning murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and others…
Outside the Palace, you’ll also find several Pegasus sculptures by Agustí Querol Subirats, a prominent Spanish sculptor
Street musician flanked by heavily tattooed street performers…
Just down the street from our hotel on Donceles Street stands the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, aka La Enseñanza Church, was built between 1772 and 1778. The former convent was called El Convento de la Enseñanza La Antigua (The Old Convent of the Teaching), from which is derived the church’s popular name.
Young couple getting cozy outside the entrance to the Museo de la Memoria y Tolerancia (Memory and Tolerance Museum)
The Museo de la Memoria y Tolerancia opened in 2010 to focus in the consequences of indifference, discrimination and violence. Through historical memory the rooms display a tour of the worst crimes committed by humanity against humanity because of religious, ethnic or other form of intolerance.
The Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon in the ancient city Teotihuacán, a vast Mexican archaeological complex about an hour northeast of Mexico City, are must-see attractions. See the full set of images HERE
On our last day in Mexico City, we paid a visit to the Museo de Arte Moderno to sneak a peek at “The Two Fridas” (1939) by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
Mexico City has much to offer. So much so that we could have stayed five more days and still not seen all the sights this bustling city has to offer. Fortunately, I’ll be back in town in about five months to get my implant crowned (stay tuned!). As for the photographs, I’m just getting started – there’s many more to come from not only Mexico City but from the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato so SUBSCRIBE HERE to not be left sucking your toe (all the way to Mexico).
Photographs taken with my Pentax K-1 using the Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, Pentax-F 135mm f/2.8 and the Irix 15mm f/2.4. Supported by the Spider Camera Holster SpiderPro Hand Strap (a must for the weighty K-1) and carried around in the Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 camera bag.