10 Amazing Things to See in Mexico City


By Google Arts & Culture

Words by Eric Esposito

Market in the neighbourhood of Xochimilco, Mexico City, MexicoHUMAN

From Frida Kahlo's self-portraits to an Aztec sun stone

In Ciudad de México, the ancestors are never forgotten. First founded as the capital of the Aztec empire, Mexico City was then conquered by the Spanish, Americans, and French before becoming the capital of an independent nation. Although Mexico City is now a bustling center of finance and industry, it’s not hard to find evidence of this city’s storied past in its architecture, monuments, museums, and, of course, its people.

Let’s explore just a few of the fascinating cultural sites you have to see in Mexico City.

Market in the neighbourhood of Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico (From the collection of HUMAN)

1. Inspirational Art of Frida Kahlo at La Casa Azul

Although she was overshadowed by her husband — the famous painter Diego Rivera — during her brief life, Frida Kahlo is now one of the icons of Mexican art. Born in 1907 in Mexico City’s Coyoacán region, Kahlo was born with polio and suffered a major car accident as a child, influencing her emotive art.

Frida Kahlo (1926) by Guillermo KahloMuseo Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, Guillermo Kahlo 1926 (From the collection of Museo Frida Kahlo)

Luckily for the world, Kahlo used all of her struggles to create paintings, most of which can be admired in her former Mexico City home La Casa Azul. The museum is as colorful and vibrant as the artist herself, with each room preserved as it once was, and artworks lining every wall. Visiting Frida’s studio and gardens only increases one's appreciation of this Mexican painter, giving viewers more than just a look at her artwork, but fully immersing you into her world.

Gardens Museo Frida Kahlo

Since Frida Kahlo’s death, her popularity has only increased around the world. Believe it or not, thousands of Mexican women don Frida Kahlo’s famous wardrobe every year in elaborate look-alike contests.

Museo Frida Kahlo, Mexico, Mexico

2. Popular Art at Museo Dolores Olmedo

Dolores Olmedo Patiño was a successful businesswoman who had an expert taste for fine arts. Museo Dolores Olmedo is highly respected for its paintings by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo as well as its collection of folk art. There’s even a special papier-mâché tribute to Rivera and Kahlo, both of whom are lovingly presented as skeletons in the tradition of Día de los Muertos.

Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico

The museum holds the most important collection of prominent painter Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo’s husband, who was very close to the Olmedo family. Often using Olmedo as a muse in his paintings, visitors can see examples of Rivera’s portraiture in Olmedo’s personal collection on display.

Portrait of Dolores Olmedo (La Tehuana), Diego Rivera, 1955 (From the collectin of Museo Dolores Olmedo)

3. The Aztec Sun Stone at Mexico’s Largest Museum

Measuring an impressive 360,000 square feet, Mexico City’s popular Museo Nacional de Antropología isn’t just Mexico’s largest museum, it’s one of the largest in the world. Out of all the myriad of Pre-Columbian items on display here, however, most guests only come to see one thing: the circular Aztec calendar stone. This priceless artefact’s name may be a bit misleading. Though it was once considered to be a calendar, in actual fact it's a sun stone that describes the Aztec idea of the cosmos.

Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico, D.F., Mexico

Measuring 11.75 x 3.22 feet, the Aztec calendar was buried shortly after the 1500s and wasn’t discovered until the late 1700s. After about 100 years sitting atop Mexico City Cathedral, authorities finally took the calendar down for safekeeping. Today, Mexicans celebrate this intricate work of art on their 20-peso coins.

Piedra del Sol (1250/1500) by unknownMuseo Nacional de Antropología, México

Piedra del Sol, unknown 1250/1500 (From the collection of Museo Nacional de Antropología, México)

4. Pedro Patiño Ixtolinque’s sculptures at Museo Nacional de Arte

When we think of great sculpture we often think of names like Michelangelo, Rodin, and Bernini. While all three of these sculptors undoubtedly deserve their place in art history, one name that deserves more critical attention is Mexico’s Pedro Patiño Ixtolinque.

America (ca. 1825) by Pedro Patiño IxtolinqueMuseo Nacional de Arte

America, Pedro Patiño Ixtolinqueca., 1825 (From the collection of Museo Nacional de Arte)

Ixtolinque, who lived between 1774–1835, rose in the Mexican artistic ranks to eventually design the altar at Mexico City Cathedral. In addition to the Mexico City Cathedral, art lovers can better appreciate Pedro Patiño Ixtolinque’s genius at the Museo Nacional de Arte with two of his most important sculptures, Liberty and America on display.

Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

5. Murals of the All City Canvas Movement

Since its inception in 2012, Mexico’s All City Canvas project has become one of the world’s top rated urban art festivals. Organizers of the All City Canvas work hard to bring together the most innovative urban artists and create unforgettable murals on Mexico City’s walls.

Roa (2012-04-29/2012-05-06) by RoaAll City Canvas

Roa, ROA 2012-04-29/2012-05-06 (From the collection of All City Canvas)

As the project's popularity increases, the All City Canvas has evolved into a multimedia and fashion enterprise. At its core, however, the All City Canvas project is concerned with helping young and dynamic Mexican artists express themselves in a contemporary form of the iconic Mexican mural.

Futura (2013-04-16/2013-04-19) by FuturaAll City Canvas

Futura (From the collection of All City Canvas)

6. Carlos Monsiváis Aceves’s Life Story at Museo del Estanquillo

One of the best political commentators Mexico City gave the world was Carlos Monsiváis Aceves. Although he passed away in 2010, his legacy as a champion for the working class remains important in Mexico.

Museo del Estanquillo, Mexico

In addition to his concerns for the wellbeing of Mexican citizens, Aceves was deeply concerned about cats (he owned 11 cats himself). Aceves even founded a group called Gatos Olvidados to help rescue homeless cats.

Calavera with guitar (1938/1938) by Leopoldo MéndezMuseo del Estanquillo

Calavera with guitar, Leopoldo Méndez 1938/1938 (From the collection of Museo del Estanquillo)

The Museo del Estanquillo now houses over 20,000 historic newspapers, toys, and photos that Aceves collected throughout his life.

Maderist [revolutionary] calavera (1911/1911) by José Guadalupe PosadaMuseo del Estanquillo

Maderist [revolutionary] calavera, José Guadalupe Posada, 1911/1911 (From the collection of Museo del Estanquillo)

7. Miraculous stories at Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

The most miraculous story Mexico City has given to the world is wrapped up with the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. As the story goes, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin four times at Tepeyac Hill in 1531.

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

If that wasn’t miraculous enough, the Virgin Mother proved her appearance to a local bishop by manifesting on one of Juan Diego’s cloaks. This beautifully colored cloak is on display for all to marvel at in this equally stunning basilica.

Virgin of Guadalupe (1701 - 1710) by Juan de VillegasMuseo de América

Virgin of Guadalupe, Juan de Villegas, 1701 - 1710 (From the collection of Museo de América)

8. Fantastic Folk Dance at The Palacio de Bellas Artes

If Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe gave the world spiritual vision, then the Palacio de Bellas Artes gives us all a better appreciation for authentic Mexican performing arts. In particular, the Palacio de Bellas Artes is beloved for its Ballet Folklórico troupe, which performs traditional Mexican ballets every Sunday.

Palacio de Bellas Artes Mexico

Created by Amalia Hernández Navarroin 1952, this group of professional folk dancers and singers became indelibly linked with the spirit of Mexico within a matter of years. Just like how flamenco is associated with Spain, so the Ballet Folklórico is associated with the Mexican spirit.

Mexico City Historic Center, Palace of Fine Arts facade, 2009 (2009)World Monuments Fund

Mexico City Historic Center, Palace of Fine Arts facade, 2009 (From the collection of World Monuments Fund)

9. Sublime Structures at Museo Fernando García Ponce

Mexico City’s Museo Fernando García Ponce was created to help people better understand the innovations in modern and contemporary Mexican art. In particular, this museum highlights another one of Mexico City’s artistic geniuses: Fernando García Ponce (1933 – 1987).

Composición en gris (1974 - 1974) by Fernando García PonceMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán, MACAY, Fernando García Ponce

Composición en gris, Fernando Garcia Ponce1974 - 1974 (From the collection of Museo Fernando García Ponce)

Ponce initially studied to become an architect, which most likely informed the geometric theme to many of his paintings. The revolutionary works of Ponce and others in his “Breakaway” group drew inspiration from post-Impressionist movements like Cubism and Abstract Expressionism rather than the tradition of mural painting in Mexican art.

Relieve y espacio (1970 - 1970) by Fernando García PonceMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán, MACAY, Fernando García Ponce

Relieve y espacio, Fernando Garcia Ponce, 1970 - 1970 (From the collection of Museo Fernando García Ponce)

10. Contemporary Mexican culture at the Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos

Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos

Officially a part of the Pedro Meyer Foundation, the Foto Museo project was created to open up dialogue on pressing socio-economic and identity issues in Mexico via the art of photography. The dynamic photographers and models at the Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos work to create bold statements on issues ranging from globalization to gender identity.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps