Mexico DF

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   Mexico DF - Mexico Distrito Federal

   Mexico City is an amazing place.  It’s huge (about 1200 square miles) – you fly over it for seemingly hours.  It’s crowded, and it has very bad traffic, with an amazing 2.6 million cars and buses!  It’s the capital city of the Mexican United States, and was founded in 1325 AD.   At 7200 feet altitude, the weather is mild (although the air brings tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat).  Estimates vary – population is stated somewhere between 16 million and 22 million in the metropolitan area.

   Municipal Cathedral

   Like any large city, Mexico DF is a study in diversity – skyscrapers, elegant mansions, folksy parks and neighborhoods, and of course, the old colonial parts of the city.  The main square, or El Zocalo (which is absolutely huge – second only to Red Square in Moscow - and completely barren concrete), houses a couple of the most important buildings in the city.  The main city Metropolitan Cathedral is here.   Built over several centuries the metropolitan cathedral is a mixture of styles - both Baroque and Neoclassical. Like Spanish cathedrals, it features a cross plan, and the parish church is annexed on the right side of the cathedral.  Mexico City is build on landfill reclaimed by the Aztecs from Lake Texcoco, and in places the ground is unstable – the cathedral is slowly sinking into the earth. 

   Links:  

Official Mexico City website

Interesting photos of the cathedral

   
 
Cathedral Cathedral
Side view of the Cathedral The Cathedral, from El Zocalo
Cathedral Cathedral
 
   

   National Palace

   On one side of El Zocalo is the National Palace.  The National Palace is home to the offices of the President (or at least it was in 2003 – it has since been moved), the National Archives and the Federal Treasury.  There were a lot of armed guards there, but not out of line with the function of the building.  Above the central gate of the National Palace is the bell rung in 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo declaring Mexico's independence from Spain.

   The National Palace contains several large murals by the famous painter, Diego Rivera.  His México a Través de los Siglos (Mexico Through the Centuries), on the main stairwell leading to the first floor, depicts every major event and person of Mexican history, from Cortés’ conquest of the Aztecs and Mexico to the Mexican Revolution, all with Rivera’s typical Marxist twist. The most famous is the "Epic of the Mexican People in their Struggle for Freedom and Independence", which condenses two thousand years of history onto the space of a wall (much of it gruesome)
 

 
 

Photo of El Zocalo, looking at the National Palace, with the Cathedral on the left side.  The green Volkswagens are taxis.

(from George and Audrey Delange’s website)
Fountain Fountain
Inside the National Palace
Mural Chris
One of several Diego Rivera murals inside the National Palace Standing in the Square
Market Market
A city market right off El Zocalo
 
   

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