Things to Do in Mexico - page 4
Perhaps the most popular (and most recognizable) amusement park in the world, Six Flags is a rollercoaster theme park filled with comic, cartoon, and mythological characters and never fails to impress both the young and the young-at-heart. Packed with rides that thrill and delight, Six Flags Mexico has a total of 48 rides from which to choose, eight of them mind-bending, exhilarating roller coasters with two of them being water rides that soak and surprise.
Located on the southern edge of Mexico City, Six Flags Mexico is the only Six Flags operating in Latin America, and has a huge draw. Known for its comic and cartoon themes, Six Flags Mexico City is laid out like a minor city. Stroll with your family through Pueblo Mexicano (Mexican Village), Pueblo Frances (French Village), Pueblo Polinesio (Polynesian Village), Hollywood, Pueblo Suizo (Swiss Village), Pueblo Vaquero (Cowboy Town) and El Circo de Bugs Bunny (The Bugs Bunny Circus).
Sun worshiper and deep-sea divers flock to the shores of La Roqueta Island, where travelers gather to snorkel, kayak and lounge in the balmy Acapulco heat. A handful of restaurants and a small zoo keep non-beach bums entertained, but visitors agree it’s the island’s golden sand beaches, brilliant blue waters and incredible ocean views that make this a popular stop for tourists.
Though regulars warn the beaches of La Roqueta can get crowded, most agree the busy shores are actually perfect for people watching. And the island’s cool, laidback vibe still makes it easy to relax and unwind—even in high season. Travelers can chill out on beach chairs or saddle up to the rafts of local seashell salesmen in search of the perfect souvenir, while more adventurous sorts can hike a network of trails that lead to stunning scenic overlooks or cliff jump from one of the island’s rocky peaks.
Chapultepec Park, or Grasshopper Hill, is the largest city park in the world, an awesome expanse of greenery marbled with walking paths that meander between quiet ponds, monumental buildings, and a world-class collection of museums. Visitors could enjoy a quiet afternoon in its embrace, surrounded the sidewalk stands, soccer games, and other amusements, or explore the park for months on end, finding something new every day.
The park was probably set aside as green space in the 1300s, but wasn't officially protected until 1428, by King Nezahualcoyotl. The Spanish and Mexican governments have since maintained most of its natural integrity, though they did add aqueducts, palaces and other public spaces within. The most popular attractions include the massive zoo, also founded in the 1400s; the National Museum of Anthropology; La Feria Chapultepec Mágico, a small amusement park; the Ninos Heroes Monument; and the President's mansion at Los Pinos.
Just south of the cathedral and facing the pretty Plaza de Armas, you’ll find the imposing governor’s palace. The two-story building is massive, baroque, and beset with snarling gargoyles, but the façade is far less interesting than the building’s illustrious history and unique interior.
The palace was completed in 1790. Father Miguel Hidalgo occupied the building in 1810, during the Mexican War of Independence. A radical priest with a taste for wine and women, Hidalgo crusaded for human rights; it was here in the governor’s palace that he issued his famous proclamation to abolish slavery. Later, during one of Mexico’s numerous small civil wars, Benito Juarez, “Mexico’s Abraham Lincoln,” also occupied the building. When opposing forces entered the city, Juarez was captured outside the palace and very nearly executed. The guns of a firing squad were lined upon him when the novelist Guillermo Prieto jumped forth to shield Juarez.
Dating back to the 16th century when it was first built, the impressive Church of Santo Domingo towers over the historic center of Puebla, Mexico. Painted in deep reds and built with faded gray stone, the Roman Catholic cathedral and square is a major landmark for the town. It was constructed by the order of the Dominicans and was once part of a larger Dominican convent that stretched more than two blocks. The main altarpiece of the church is its most impressive sight, opulently decorated in gold life-size statues of religious figures. The interior stretches four stories from floor to ceiling, with domed ceilings and windows letting in soft, natural light.
Behind the facade lies the Capilla del Rosario, or chapel of the rosary, one of the most ornately decorated interiors in all of Mexico. Its detailed use of gold leaf, tile, and gilded stucco is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Mexican Baroque art and architecture.
If you walk west from the Centro Historico along Avenida Juárez, you’ll come the University of Guadalajara campus and the University of Guadalajara Art Museum. A two-story neoclassical building of white brick, the museum is designed on a cross formation and is home to two important works by Jose Clemente Orozco. The murals are located in the auditorium: Stone columns support a domed ceiling emblazoned with the dramatic "El Hombre Creador y Rebelde,” or “Man, Creator and Rebel.” Behind the lecture stage is Orozco’s famous fresco, “El pueblo y sus falsos líderes” or “The People and their false leaders.” The clever use of space creates the impression that you are inside an Orozco mural. In typical Orozco fashion, the effect is mesmerizing but slightly unsettling.
The museum also houses a rotation of traveling exhibits and a fine permanent collection with works by important Jaliscan artists such as Martha Pacheco, Javier Arévalo, and Carmen Bordes.
More Things to Do in Mexico
International restaurants, popular nightclubs and trendy bars line the shaded streets of Condesa, an up-and-coming district in the Cuauhtemoc Borough of Mexico City. Just west of Zocalo, this youthful neighborhood is known for its attractive residents, fashionable businessmen and innovative artists. Its quiet cafes, unique galleries and stylish boutiques offer an ideal way to spend a leisurely afternoon in the city, and Art Deco architecture dating back to the early 20th Century makes for picturesque strolls.
Stop by the Trolleybus Theater, where abandoned trolleys provide a creative space for inventive theater and art shows, or wander over to the well-known Parque Mexico. Previously a racetrack, this green space has since become the center of the district and is recognized by the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, as an important part of Mexico City’s unique charm.
Sprawling across the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains and blanketed with pine and oak forests, the Chipinque Ecological Park is one of Nuevo Leon’s most enchanting natural attractions and the most easily accessible part of the Cumbres Monterrey National Park.
Centered around the 2,200-meter peak of Chipinque, the park is a favorite retreat of city dwellers, with ample opportunities to explore and an abundance of untamed wilderness filled with exotic birds and wildlife. Along with a vast network of hiking and mountain biking trails, rappelling and rock climbing are popular activities, and Chipinque is also home to an astronomical observatory, a butterfly farm and several natural lookout points, which offer views over nearby Monterrey and the surrounding countryside.
The Mexican flag refers to a vision dating to the 13th century, telling Aztec seers to seek an eagle on a cactus, devouring a snake, and build their temples there. The wandering tribe finally found their sign atop an island in Lake Texcoco, and built the mighty city of Tenochtitlán upon it.
Fast forward 7 centuries, to a 1978 electrical problem close to the Zócalo, Spanish Colonial heart of Mexico City. Workers, digging into the soft earth, uncovered a massive, eight-ton stone depicting Coyolxauhqui, Aztec goddess of the moon. Archaeologists who had long suspected that the Templo Mayor, or Great Temple lay beneath this neighborhood, were vindicated. Throughout the 1980s, Spanish buildings were cleared away as excavation revealed an unprecedented wealth of treasures from every corner of the Aztec Empire. The old pyramid was decapitated by the Spanish advance, but much remains: walls of stuccoed skulls and enormous carvings dedicated to Tlaloc, god of storms.
One of the oldest markets in the city, the San Juan Market (Ernesto Pugibet Market) was established in colonial times and is over 150 years old. One of the most popular places to shop in the city, the market had simple roots, once beginning as people put things out upon blankets on the ground. Perhaps it is for precisely this reason that San Juan Market has excelled where others have failed. Known for its gourmet products and its exotic ingredients, the gathering is what all markets hope to be – unique, genuine and useful.
Look for La Jersey, a famous stall where imported delicacies are sold, such as foie gras, French cheeses and Italian meats. There is also Café Triana where you’ll taste the finest in Mexican organic coffees. Other stalls sell everything from quail to venison to shark.
The National Museum of Art’s collection of traditional Mexican crafts may be smaller than what’s found at the National Museum of Anthropology, but it still remains a popular destination for travelers to Mexico City.
Built between 1905 and 1911, the historic structure boasts an impressive entrance with richly detailed ceilings, Corinthian columns and intricate iron staircases. An expansive network of galleries and halls displays work from the 16th Century to the 20th Century, including early paintings by Diego Rivera and landscapes by Velasco. Artwork shows the progression of national development through traditional Mexican artistry. While the permanent collection is impressive, temporary exhibits are often worth the trip.
Museo Memoria y Tolerancia does more than explore Mexico’s history of violence and its role in aiding Holocaust survivors. Built in 1999, this groundbreaking museum examines the impact of genocide through eye-opening exhibits that increase awareness of all global violence—from North America to Sub-Saharan Africa.
The museum is divided into two major sections, as its name suggests—Memory and Tolerance. Memory galleries tell the story of the Holocaust, Balkan Conflict and the Rwandan genocide, as well as devastation in Cambodia, Guatemala and Darfur. The Tolerance wing explores the impact of language on discrimination and prejudice and offers a roadmap to acceptance of differences on a more global level. Together, these galleries illustrate the international struggle between harm and hope, leaving visitors with a new appreciation for human rights and human strength.
The seat of Mexico's federal government since the age of the Aztecs (at least), the National Palace - or Palacio Nacional - is a working building, and many offices are off limits to visitors. You can, however, pass through the enormous baroque facade dominating the eastern side of the Zócalo and enjoy some of its ample interior.
Though the arcaded courtyards and fountains are fine examples of Spanish colonial architecture, you're here to see artist Diego Rivera's triptych of murals, "Epic of the Mexican People." From the creation of humankind by Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent god, and subsequent rise of the Aztecs, Rivera plunges you into the horrors of the Spanish Conquest - rape, murder, slavery, and finally, mercy to the defeated survivors. In the final piece, Mexico's resistance to invasions by France, the United States, and corporate robber barons including Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, are depicted.
At the historic heart of one of the world's most populous cities, is the first and largest cathedral in the Americas, seat of the Archdiocese of Mexico, and a wonder to behold. The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral - or Catedral Metropolitana - is a symphony in stone, composed over 4 centuries into manifold facades, displaying textbook Neoclassical, Renaissance, and wedding-cake ornate Mexican Baroque (Churrigueresque) styles.
Within its fantastic bulk are sheltered some 16 chapels, several alters and retablos, a fine parish church, and a choir, each an inspired work of art replete with gold gilt, fine paintings, and sculptural details. Above it all, 25 bells - measured in tons - ring and sing to the city all around.
Across from the Guadalajara Cathedral, the Teatro Degollado looms in stony, neoclassical glory. Corinthian columns form a massive portico topped with a marble relief of Apollo and the nine muses. The length of the building’s rear wall is adorned with a stylish sculptural depiction of Guadalajara’s history; a fountain runs along the base.
The inside is even more over-the- top, with five tiers of gilded balconies and a ceiling frescoed with scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. A red-and-gold color scheme is augmented with frippery, including a fearsome golden eagle above the stage. The eagle holds a chain in its beak: as legend has it, the theater will stand until the day the golden eagle drops its chain.
France has the Champs-Élysées, New Orleans has St. Charles Street, and Mexico City has the Paseo de la Reforma. More than just a major thoroughfare that spans the length of the city, the street is a historical touchstone to remind all who pass through of the robust history of Mexico City.
Once commissioned by then-newly crowned emperor Maximilian, the Paseo de la Reforma was built to connect the center of the city with his imperial residence, Chapultepec Castle in Chapultepec Park. Originally named after his beloved, the promenade was named Paseo de la Emparitz. After Maximilian’s execution and the liberation of the Mexican people, the street was renamed the Paseo de la Reforma and has since stood as a testament to the resiliency of the Mexican people. Today, the most prominent buildings in Mexico City reside along the avenue. For a time during President Diego’s regime, the paseo became popular with the Mexican elite, and some European styled houses developed.
If you love to shop, or if you simply want some good quality, locally-made artisan crafts as souvenirs from your time in Mexico City, then a visit to Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela is a must.
Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela, often just referred to as La Ciudadela, is a daily market in the city center that is known for having reasonable prices and a variety of stalls. It is a covered market that surrounds a central open air area that has a restaurant where you can grab a refreshing drink or bite to eat. You can find similar types of products at various stalls so don’t be afraid to browse throughout the market before you buy and then barter with the vendors for the best price. Some of the goods you’ll come across at La Ciudadela are colorful blankets, sombreros, purses and other textiles. You’ll also find a plethora of pottery, homewares and artwork. Or search for the perfect piece of jewelry to remember your visit to Mexico City by.
Things to do near Mexico
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